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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 December 2005, 13:31 GMT
Palestinians shot dead in Nablus
Israeli soldiers in Nablus after the raid
Israel has stepped up operations against militant groups
Three Palestinians have been shot and killed by Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Nablus, Palestinian medical sources say.

The men were shot dead as they tried to flee a building that had been sealed off by Israeli troops, witnesses said.

Meanwhile five Israeli soldiers were slightly wounded by a Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip at their base in southern Israel, the army said.

A Palestinian man was killed when the army responded by firing shells.

Palestinian medical officials said Ibrahim Naana, 21, had been killed by shrapnel after a shell landed east of the Jabaliya refugee camp.

The Israeli Army said that it had fired at rocket-launching sites, and that it had thought the area was empty.

Two other rockets were fired into Israel on Thursday, but no damage or casualties were reported.

The attacks came amid increasing tension along the border of the Gaza Strip, from which Israel withdrew in September.

Israeli forces have retaliated against Palestinian rocket attacks with artillery fire and air strikes on suspected militants.

On Sunday, Israel said it shot dead a militant trying to plant mines near the Erez Crossing.

West Bank raid

In Nablus, soldiers had entered the four-storey building in the city searching for wanted militants, the Israeli army said.

When the three tried to flee they were shot, officials said. The operation at the building was continuing.

Local people said one of the dead men was Bashar Khanani, the leader of the Nablus branch of the small militant group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

The Israeli army said overnight raids across the West Bank had resulted in the arrest of 14 suspected militants.

Israel has stepped up military activity against militant groups since a suicide bombing killed five people at a shopping centre in Netanya on 5 December.

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