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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 18 March, 2003, 18:05 GMT
Hamas members shot dead
Israeli security operation in the West Bank
The Israeli army has been sweeping the West Bank in search for militants
The Israeli army says it killed two senior members of the militant group Hamas in two separate raids in the West Bank.

The army said in a statement that the two Hamas militants - identified as Nasser Assideh and Ali Alan - were linked to suicide bombings and other attacks in Israel.

The statement said the army was trying to arrest Nasser Assideh in a West Bank village near the town of Qalqilya, when he opened fire. It said the soldiers returned fire and killed him.

The army said that Nasser Assideh - who was on Israel's most wanted list - was responsible for masterminding several attacks on Jewish targets.

In a separate incident just hours earlier, the army said Ali Alan was killed in a pre-dawn gun battle with Israeli troops in a village near Bethlehem.

It said Ali Alan - head of Hamas military wing in the West Bank - was responsible for at least three attacks on Israeli targets, including the most recent bus bombing in Haifa.

The army said one Israeli soldier was killed in the shoot-out and another was injured.

More than 1,800 Palestinians and more than 700 Israelis have been killed since the present intifada erupted in September 2000.


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