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Thursday, 24 January, 2002, 13:55 GMT
'Suicide squad' killed in Gaza blast
Israeli tanks in Ramallah
Israeli armour restricts Yasser Arafat's movements
Two Palestinian militants have been killed in an attempted raid on a Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip and a Palestinian security officer was shot dead in the West Bank town of Ramallah.

The two militants died in an explosion overnight in the southern Gaza Strip, near the Kfar Darom settlement.

Palestinian security officials said a Palestinian intelligence officer died on Thursday in a gun battle with Israeli troops in Ramallah, where Israeli tanks encircle the headquarters of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Gaza protest against blockade of Arafat HQ
Israel's blockade of Mr Arafat's HQ has angered Palestinians
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) claimed responsibility for the operation in Gaza in which the two militants, described as suicide bombers, died.

The attempted attack was in response to Israel's "assassination of four martyrs" in the West Bank town of Nablus, the PFLP said.

Israel radio said the army found their bodies with explosive belts strapped to them. There are no reports of any Israeli casualties.

Four members of the Islamic militant group Hamas were killed when Israeli forces raided Nablus on Tuesday.

Palestinian sources also reported a raid by Israeli special forces in Hebron on Thursday, in which four Palestinians were wounded, including one who was then "abducted".

Vehicles attacked

Israeli military officials said Palestinian gunmen fired at an Israeli bus on its way to the West Bank settlement of Maaleh Shomron, hitting it but not injuring anyone.

And in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian gunmen ambushed a civilian convoy outside the Netzarim settlement, again without causing casualties, the officials said.

The United States is putting more pressure on Mr Arafat to stop attacks by militants.

Israel has beefed up security since a Palestinian gunman opened fire in Jerusalem on Tuesday, killing two Israelis and injuring almost 40.

See also:

23 Jan 02 | Middle East
Crowds attend Hamas funeral
22 Jan 02 | Middle East
Militant released after Israeli raid
02 Dec 01 | Middle East
Death toll climbs in Jerusalem attacks
17 Jan 02 | Middle East
Militants target Palestinian officials
23 Jan 02 | Middle East
US puts pressure on Arafat
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