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Thursday, 13 December, 2001, 14:45 GMT
Palestinian leader's house raided
Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti
Marwan Barghouti has strong popular support
Israeli troops have stormed the home of leading West Bank Palestinian activist Marwan Barghouti.

Twenty-five soldiers burst into the house to search it and said they might stay as long as five days, Mr Barghouti's wife Ruba Barghouti told the French news agency AFP.

The leader of the was nearby when six Israeli tanks approached his house, but he escaped unhurt, witnesses said.

Wreckage from attack on Barghouti's car
Mr Barghouti escaped a previous attack on his car
Mrs Barghouti said that her husband does not usually sleep in his Ramallah house.

She was inside the house with the couple's children and some other relatives when the troops entered. Witnesses said the soldiers cut the house's telephone connection.

There has been no Israeli comment on the incident.

Vocal leader

Mr Barghouti, the head of Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction in the West Bank, is one of the most vocal leaders of the Palestinian movement.

He first emerged as a popular student leader during the first intifada between 1987 and 1992 and has been tipped by some commentators as a possible successor to Mr Arafat.

He survived an Israeli missile attack on a car in which he was travelling in August. Israel said it was not targeting him at that time.

See also:

04 Aug 01 | Middle East
Profile: Marwan Barghouti
04 Aug 01 | Middle East
Palestinian leader survives attack
02 Dec 00 | Middle East
'Palestinian struggle will continue'
30 Jul 01 | profiles
Fatah: Cornerstone of Arafat's power
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