Israeli troops kill Palestinian fighter

Israeli soldiers have shot and killed a Palestinian fighter after he fired on a military patrol in a West Bank town, the Israeli army said.

    Palestinian sources said the fighter belonged to the PFLP

    The shooting took place late on Friday in the town of Anabta.

    The army said two armed men fired on the patrol, one using a hunting rifle, aand that a force nearby fired back, killing one of the assailants. Palestinian security officials confirmed a Palestinian had been killed and said he was hit by dozens of bullets.

    Palestinians identified the dead man as Raid Masharka, a 21-year-old member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a small PLO faction.

    'Time for democracy'

    In Gaza, cabinet minister Mohammed Dahlan praised his Fatah movement's armed struggle against Israel, but called on armed men to set aside their weapons and move toward democracy. He called on the ruling Fatah party to focus on winning a January parliamentary election.

    Dahlan called on fighters to lay
    down their weapons

    "We are the pioneers in the Fatah movement and we should
    put an end to the division. We should be united. It's time
    for democracy," Dahlan said.

    Dahlan spoke to a crowd of thousands of cheering Palestinians who welcomed him home Saturday after weeks of medical treatment in Belgrade. Dahlan was first diagnosed with a slipped disc in his back in August, and was treated in Israel and Jordan before heading to Belgrade.

    Some Palestinians attribute the internal fighting that has plagued the Gaza Strip since Israel's pullout to Dahlan's absence. They hope Dahlan, who has some influence over the corruption-plagued security forces, will help bring law and order to the coastal area.

    Tulkarem clash

    On Friday, Palestinian armed men seriously wounded a Palestinian police officer who came to settle a dispute in the West Bank town of Tulkarim, witnesses and hospital officials said.

    The armed man fired on police who were called to deal with an argument in a coffee shop, witnesses said. The armed man attacked and fired at the police officers when they entered the cafe, the witnesses said.

    One police officer was in critical condition after being shot in the stomach, while two others were lightly injured, hospital officials said.

    The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades - a group with links to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' ruling Fatah party which has often been involved in internal fighting - said it was not responsible for the gun battle. No other resistance group has claimed responsibility.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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