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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 August 2006, 07:10 GMT 08:10 UK
West Bank militant leader killed
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Israeli troops have killed a leading Palestinian militant in the West Bank, Palestinian officials said.

Fadi Khafisha, a commander in the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, was shot dead in the Old City area of Nablus and at least five other people were wounded

Israel said its troops had come under fire during a routine operation.

Troops also pulled out of a Gaza City neighbourhood after a five-day operation to search for tunnels and explosives, the Israeli army said.

Palestinian sources say Mr Khafisha was a top figure, perhaps the most important al-Aqsa man in the West Bank, reports the BBC's Alan Johnson in Ramallah.

Suicide bombings

The Israeli forces that occupy the territory had tried to kill him a number of times but when his death finally came it did not seem to have been the result of a direct assassination attempt, our correspondent says.

Fadi Khafisha's mother (centre) grieves at death of her son
Khafisha was one of the most senior militants in the West Bank
It seems that Mr Khafisha got caught up in one of the very frequent clashes between militants and Israeli patrols in the alleyways of the Old City, he adds.

Reuters news agency quoted unnamed security sources as saying Mr Khafisha was known for helping plan suicide bombings in Israel.

In the Gaza operation, the Israeli army said soldiers had destroyed a 150-metre (500ft) tunnel dug from the Shajaiyeh district in Gaza City to the Karni crossing between Gaza and Israel.

It said the tunnel was 13 metres deep, had been reinforced with wooden beams and was to be used for an attack on troops.

Palestinian hospital officials said at least 19 Palestinians had been shot dead since Israel launched its incursion into Shajaiyeh on Saturday.

Israel has been waging a campaign against Palestinian militants in Gaza since soldier Gilad Shalit was captured in a cross-border raid in June.




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