Five Palestinians and an Italian journalist were killed in Gaza when Israeli ordnance detonated as experts tried to disable it just hours before the end of a 72-hour truce.

The blast occurred on Wednesday in the northern town of Beit Lahiya as Egyptian mediators scrambled to persuade Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to extend a three-day ceasefire, which expires at midnight (2100 GMT).

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Without agreement on an extension or a long-term truce, the two sides risk a resumption of the deadly fighting, which began on July 8.

The Associated Press (AP) confirmed that one of its journalists and a freelance Palestinian translator had been killed in the blast, identifying them as Simone Camilli, a 35-year-old cameraman from Italy, and Ali Shehda Abu Afash, 36.

Abu Afash, who also worked for the AFP, leaves behind a wife and two girls, aged seven and two, the news agency reported.

Camilli, who is survived by a wife and three-year-old daughter, had worked for The Associated Press since 2005. 

Both men were killed as they covered the story of experts dismantling unexploded ordnance. One of AP's Palestinian photographers, Hatem Moussa, was also badly wounded in the explosion along with another four people, medics said.

The Gaza interior ministry said its top bomb disposal expert in the north had been killed, naming him as Taysir Lahum.

Camilli is the first foreign journalist die in the violence in Gaza.

In a separate incident, a child was killed and two others wounded when a rocket landed on their home, in the town of el-Mattallah in Egypt, south of Rafah, near the border with Gaza, security and medical sources told the Reuters news agency on Wednesday.

The conflict has killed more than 1,950 Palestinians, the vast majority of whom were civilians, and 67 Israelis, mostly soldiers.

Source: Agencies