Hamas, Fatah Gun Battles In Gaza

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Palestinian resistance movement Hamas yesterday accused Palestinian National Authority President Mahmud Abbas of attempting a military coup after Fatah forces sealed off two Hamas-led government ministries.

Two Palestine Legislative Council ministers have also been shot at in the past few days.

Tensions continued to erupt into violence after Abbas announced he was calling fresh elections.

A 19-year-old Palestinian woman was killed by gunfire during heavy battles between Hamas and Fatah factions in Gaza City.

Fatah forces loyal to Abbas overran two government ministries and sealed off the area around his compound.

Abbas’ 4,000-strong presidential guard has taken over the Hamas-run Agriculture and Transport ministries as they moved to secure a large swathe of central Gaza City around where Abbas has a home.

They are backed by members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant group loyal to Fatah.

Angered by the move, forces loyal to Hamas have exchanged fire with presidential guards positioned on rooftops.

Explosions have also rocked central Gaza City.

Fighting around the presidential compound yesterday – sparked by an attempt to shoot foreign minister Mahmud Zahar – resulted in the the death of university student Hebba al-Mesabeh.

Four other people were wounded, including a ten-year-old girl and veteran French journalist Didier Francois, who received a bullet to his leg.

The attacks on the presidential palace in Gaza City followed an earlier attack by unidentified armed men on the Hamas foreign minister’s convoy.

Zahar’s spokesman said yesterday the Palestinian foreign minister had escaped unscathed.

Earlier yesterday, a member of Abbas’ presidential guard was killed in a clash with Hamas security forces.

The attack on Zahar came just days after Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya’s convoy came under fire in southern Gaza in what Hamas branded an assassination attempt.