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Thursday, 31 January, 2002, 11:06 GMT
Militants shot dead in Gaza
Members of Fatah at a militant's funeral
The UN has expressed alarm at increasing violence
Israeli troops have shot dead two Palestinians after they detonated a bomb on a road inside a Jewish settlement in the Gush Katif area of the Gaza Strip.

The Islamic militant group Hamas said the men belonged to its military wing, adding: "This operation shows the fragility of the Zionist security."

The Israeli army said the bomb exploded on the road to the settlement of Ganei Tal, next to a lorry carrying Thai workers to agricultural jobs in nearby settlements - no-one was injured.

There were also reports of a mortar attack on another Gush Katif settlement, in which an Israeli is said to have been injured.

After the attacks, Israeli forces entered the nearby refugee camp of Khan Younis and detained 10 people, according to Palestinian reports.

The latest violence comes a day after a Palestinian suicide bomber seriously injured at least two agents from Israel's Shin Bet security service in northern Israel.


Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office said the agents were on an "operational mission".

They had reportedly arranged to meet the bomber on the outskirts of the Israeli city of Taibe, close to the Palestinian-controlled West Bank town of Tulkarm.

The attack was claimed by rival Palestinian militant groups who said the bomber had been an informer for Shin Bet before reverting to the Palestinian side.

Overnight, Israeli soldiers arrested two men they said belonged to the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Israeli-controlled areas near the West Bank towns of Ramallah and Tulkarm.

An army spokesman said it had made the arrests because the Palestinian Authority refused to curb the anti-Israeli activities of militant groups.

On Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council expressed its growing concern over the "unprecedented levels of violence" in the Middle East, calling for an end to hostilities and a return to negotiations and dialogue.

The BBC's Kylie Morris reports from Gaza City
"Israeli security sources have said the pair were shot and killed after an explosion"
See also:

31 Jan 02 | Middle East
Sharon regrets sparing Arafat
29 Jan 02 | Middle East
Mystery over female 'suicide bomber'
26 Jan 02 | Middle East
Arafat urges end to attacks
29 Jan 02 | Middle East
Suspected militants arrested in raid
28 Jan 02 | Middle East
Palestinian official held over arms ship
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