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At Least 9 Palestinians Killed in Factional Fighting in Gaza

11 June 2007

At least nine Palestinians have been killed in a flare-up of factional fighting in the Gaza Strip. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, repeated attempts to restore calm have failed amid a power struggle that is growing move violent.

Gunmen from Hamas and the rival Palestinian Fatah faction fought fierce battles across Gaza. Government headquarters came under fire sending Cabinet ministers fleeing from their weekly meeting. There were also clashes at two hospitals.

The fighting has become increasingly brutal. In one incident, Hamas gunmen dragged the senior Fatah official in northern Gaza out of his home and executed him. Medics say was hit by 45 bullets. Earlier, a man from Hamas and another from Fatah were hurled to their deaths from high-rise buildings.

The fighting has raised fears of a Palestinian civil war. Cease-fires have quickly collapsed time and again, including one earlier on Monday.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah appealed to both sides for calm.

"This is shameful for our people," Mr. Abbas said. "I call on everyone to stop the violence immediately so our people can live normal lives."

Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas also called for a truce.

But it appears that both leaders have lost control of the gunmen who rule the streets.

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