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Police shootout in West Bank leaves 4 dead


GAZA, June 4 (RIA Novosti) - One Palestinian police officer and three Hamas militants were killed during a shootout in the West Bank, Fatah's news website reported on Thursday.

The shootout occurred in the city of Qalqilyah when Fatah-backed police authorities were attempting to arrest Islamic militants who were hiding out in an apartment and refused to surrender.

Under similar circumstances on Sunday in Qalqilyah, six Palestinians were killed, including three police officers. Sunday's incident was the largest armed conflict between the Fatah and Hamas movements in the West Bank.

Shootouts of this sort were common in the Gaza Strip until Hamas took control of the enclave in June 2007 and pushed the Fatah movement out. Hamas has since remained in power in Gaza, independent of the officially recognized government of Fatah in the West Bank, which is headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Egypt is brokering talks between the two sides aimed at paving the way for a return to unified government and presidential and parliamentary elections.

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