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Wednesday, 12 September, 2001, 05:31 GMT 06:31 UK
Israeli tanks raid Palestinian town
Israeli tank
Tanks encircled Jenin on Tuesday
Israeli tanks and bulldozers rolled into the Palestinian town of Jenin early on Wednesday and destroyed a police building.

Palestinian witnesses described heavy exchanges of gunfire as the tanks reached the town centre. Nine Palestinians were killed, said Palestinian sources.

Troops have now withdrawn from the area, which Israel says has been a breeding ground for suicide bombers.

The incursion followed a day of violence on Tuesday in which three Palestinians were killed, two in gunbattles between Israeli forces and gunmen in Jenin and the other in the Gaza Strip.

Talks between the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, set tentatively for Tuesday, were postponed when the two sides could not agree on a venue.

In exchanges of fire between gunmen and the Israeli forces in Jenin, Mohammed Abu-Haijeh, 25, a member of the militant group Hamas, was killed by a tank shell, said Palestinian sources.

They said more than 30 other people were wounded.

Israeli tanks encircled Jenin on Tuesday morning, firing on a power station and knocking out electricity supplies to the town.

Witnesses said Israeli troops moved through vacant Palestinian territory and took up positions outside the first row of buildings.

'A hornets nest'

Israeli media reported Israeli security forces as saying the operation could last for several days.

Yasser Arafat
The Palestinians want to discuss political issues

The Israeli prime minister's office called Jenin "a hornet's nest" from where it said at least six suicide bombing missions had been carried out since the Palestinian uprising began last September.

Israel says a suicide bomber who blew himself up in the Israeli coastal town of Nahariya on Sunday, killing three Israelis, had been trained by a Hamas cell based in Jenin.

The BBC's James Reynolds, in Jeruasalem
"Israel's border crossings have been sealed off"
See also:

10 Sep 01 | Middle East
Israel's shock at Israeli bomber
09 Sep 01 | Middle East
In pictures: Mid-East bloodshed
08 Sep 01 | Middle East
Israel rockets Fatah building
29 Mar 01 | Middle East
Who are the suicide bombers?
09 Sep 01 | Middle East
Palestinian minister held
11 Sep 01 | Middle East
Prospects for Mid-East diplomacy
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