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Last Updated: Friday, 30 September 2005, 15:26 GMT 16:26 UK
Fatah success in local election
Voter in the West Bank
With a high turnout, Fatah scored a surprisingly strong victory
The governing Fatah movement of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has made an unexpectedly strong showing in local elections in the West Bank.

Final results show Fatah getting 54% of the vote, as compared with 26% for the leading militant group, Hamas.

Correspondents say the result suggests Hamas is losing some of the momentum built up in previous rounds of voting.

Campaigning was mostly about local issues such as roads and the water supply.

The result was in line with recent polling that suggested that Fatah, not Hamas, might benefit at the polling stations from the withdrawal of Israeli troops and settlers from Gaza.

About 80% of eligible voters went to the polls.

Ahead of the final results, Hamas officials complained that many of its candidates had been detained by Israeli troops before Thursday's election.

Palestinians are due to hold their first legislative elections in a decade in late January.

Nablus clash

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade rally
The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is linked to the mainstream Fatah faction

Earlier on Friday, Israeli soldiers shot dead two Palestinian militants during a clash in the West Bank, officials and witnesses say.

The militants, members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, were killed in the Balata refugee camp in Nablus.

The shooting started after troops entered the camp as part of a week-long operation against suspected militants.

Two other Palestinians were injured, one seriously, while an Israeli soldier was slightly injured.


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