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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 September, 2003, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
Militant killed in Gaza gun battle
Israeli helicopter gunship
Israeli troops were backed up by helicopter gunships

A Palestinian militant has been killed in heavy fighting after Israeli troops raided a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip.

Jihad Abu Suheireh, 34, a member of the armed wing of Hamas, died in a gun battle between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen in Nuseirat camp in central Gaza.

He had been wanted by the Israelis, and local people said he came out of hiding to return to the family home for a wedding celebration.

Three Israeli soldiers were injured in the clashes.

The troops - backed by helicopter gunships - entered Nuseirat camp in the early hours of Thursday to arrest suspected militants, said Israeli military sources.

They said that gunfire erupted as the soldiers approached the house. There was heavy shooting and Palestinians threw grenades and set off explosive devices.

Demolish

Correspondents said the noise of the explosions and bombs being detonated echoed across the camp.

Mr Suheireh was killed in the exchange of fire.

The BBC's James Rodgers said that once relatives had identified the body of the dead Hamas militant, the army ordered people to leave the area.

Troops then demolished Mr Suheireh's family home.

This was the latest attempt by Israel to crush Hamas and prevent them from carrying out further suicide bombings, which have killed more than 30 Israelis in the last month.

The violence has halted progress on the US-backed peace plan known as the roadmap.




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The BBC's James Rodgers reports from Gaza
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