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Wednesday, 14 November, 2001, 18:15 GMT
Palestinians attack police station
Palestinians in an altercation at a roadblock between Ramallah and Jerusalem
Tension is high in the West Bank
About 3,000 Palestinians have attacked a Palestinian police station in the West Bank town of Jenin in protest at the arrest of a local militant leader.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat
Mr Arafat is under pressure to reign in militants

Police inside the station exchanged gunfire with the demonstrators outside and unarmed protesters pelted the building with stones.

The protesters set fire to parts of the building and three grenades are reported to have hit the station.

There were no injuries.

'Wanted man'

Palestinian police arrested a local leader of the military branch of Islamic Jihad earlier on Wednesday in Jenin.

It was not clear whether the arrested leader, Mahmud Tawalbeh, 20, who heads the Jenin branch of the Al-Qods (Jerusalem) Brigades was in the building, but demonstrators were trying to get inside.

Community representatives are now trying to calm the situation.

The BBC's correspondent in Gaza, Kylie Morris, says a Palestinian source has described Mr Tawalbeh as the most wanted man in the West Bank, and responsible for preparing Islamic Jihad suicide bombers.

Our correspondent says there are strong feelings among Palestinians that their authorities should not be arresting militants at a time when towns like Jenin have been reoccupied by Israeli forces.

Israeli incursions

Israel launched an invasion of six Palestinian-governed towns a month ago, after the killing of cabinet minister Rehavam Ze'evi by militants.

It has since left four areas where it has reached an agreement with local security leaders to maintain calm, but the Israeli military remains in force around the towns of Jenin and Tulkarem.

Israel's Government has made it clear it will only withdraw from those areas if the Palestinians can guarantee security and arrest militants.

And Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has come under heavy international pressure to crack down on hardliners.

See also:

13 Nov 01 | Middle East
Amnesty calls for Mid-East observers
12 Nov 01 | Middle East
Israeli troops kill Hamas member
12 Nov 01 | Middle East
US promises new Mid-East initiative
10 Nov 01 | Middle East
Israel arrests 12 over shooting
09 Nov 01 | Middle East
Two shot dead in Mid-East violence
06 Nov 01 | Middle East
Israel announces new pull-back
19 Oct 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Israel turns right
26 Oct 01 | Middle East
Analysis: US unease over Israeli action
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