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Last Updated: Monday, 5 June 2006, 18:22 GMT 19:22 UK
Militants storm TV studio in Gaza
A Palestinian security official inspects the destroyed equipment of a Palestine TV
The gunmen destroyed much of the studio's equipment
Armed supporters of the Palestinian governing party Hamas have stormed a TV office in Gaza, complaining of bias towards the rival Fatah party.

They fired into studio equipment in the town of Khan Younis, called Palestine TV staff "dirty collaborators" and beat up two employees.

Hamas itself has denied any responsibility for the attack.

Tension is high after five people were killed in the most serious round of feuding between Hamas and Fatah.

Protest rally

The raid happened after the gunmen attended a funeral for one of the casualties of violence on Sunday.

"An illegal group of gunmen... destroyed everything, cameras, satellite dishes, computers and furniture," Palestine TV director general Mohammed Dawdi told the AFP news agency.

Journalists gagged in protest at the Hamas attack
The network is under the control of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas

The employees were also ordered outside the premises during the raid, which lasted several minutes.

Palestine TV staff later staged a protest rally outside the main office in Gaza City, with many demonstrators wearing gags over their mouths.

The station also stopped broadcasting at 1300 GMT for 30 minutes to voice its anger over the raid.

Hamas spokesman Sami al-Zuhri later said the militant Islamic group had "nothing to do with the attack".

Exactly what prompted the attack is not clear, but there is no doubt that it was politically motivated, the BBC's Alan Johnston in Gaza City says.

It was the first such armed assault on the official TV network since Hamas won the parliamentary election in January.

The network is under the control of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is also the leader of Fatah.


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