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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 May 2006, 11:34 GMT 12:34 UK
Hamas militia returns to streets
By Alan Johnston
BBC News, Gaza

Member of Hamas force
Hamas withdrew its force from the streets on Friday
Members of a controversial Hamas militant force have made a limited reappearance on the streets of Gaza.

This came after the Hamas-controlled government had ordered the force back to their bases on Friday.

That withdrawal was an effort to reduce violent tensions between the Hamas men and their rivals, who are linked to the Fatah faction.

For several days a force of well-armed Hamas men had been deployed on the streets here.

But they disappeared almost completely early on Friday.

They had been withdrawn in what the Hamas-controlled government described as a move to reduce friction with Fatah party loyalists.

Redeployment

Now, though, the Hamas men are back in a few key areas, such as Gaza City's main square.

Hamas always made clear that it had no intention of disbanding the force.

It described Friday's pull-back as a mere redeployment.

The government said that the new unit would continue with its law enforcement policing mission and that it would be deployed where ever it was necessary to do that - hence, apparently, the reappearance of the militants in some areas.

Meanwhile, members of an armed group loyal to the Fatah faction have staged a demonstration in the heart of Gaza City.




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