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Last Updated: Saturday, 30 August, 2003, 21:11 GMT 22:11 UK
Israeli strike kills two militants
Palestinian children examine wreckage of attacked vehicle
The vehicle was targeted by several missiles
Israeli helicopters have carried out missile strikes in the Gaza Strip killing two Hamas militants, Palestinian sources and eyewitnesses say.

Hospital officials named the two men as Abdullah Akel and Farid Mayet.

Elsewhere, hospital sources said an eight-year-old girl had been killed in the Khan Younis refugee camp by shots fired from a nearby Israeli army observation post. The Israeli army said troops opened fire at militants in the area but could not confirm anyone was hit.

Saturday's missile attack is the fifth such strike in 10 days, part of a campaign of targeted strikes against members of Palestinian militant groups.

Palestinian Information Minister Nabil Amr said the attack destroyed any chance of renewing talks with Israel.

Van blasted

Rescue workers said the car was travelling on a busy road between the Nusseirat and Bureij refugee camps in central Gaza Strip when it was hit.

Israel has no choice but to stop the terrorists before they strike us
Gideon Meir, Israeli Government spokesman
"I was riding my bicycle towards my shop... Suddenly I saw the car coming from the side of the street, and a missile had come and hit the car from the front, followed by another two," said a witness.

He said he saw a passenger hit by a fourth missile and killed after he jumped from the Peugeot van.

The other man in the car was "completely burned", he said. He died later, hospital officials said.

Reports say that two bystanders were wounded.

Calls for revenge

Israeli security sources said Akel was behind recent rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip and was preparing to fire more rockets when he was killed.

Israeli Government spokesman Gideon Meir defended Israel's actions in targeting militants, saying it has "no choice but to stop the terrorists before they strike us".

Hours after the missile attack, thousands of Palestinians joined the funeral march for the two men, chanting the name of the Qassam rockets Akel is said to have helped develop and calling for revenge.

Israel declared every Hamas militant a potential target for "liquidation" after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 21 passengers on a Jerusalem bus on 19 August.


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