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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 October 2006, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
Masked gunmen kill Hamas member
Protest in Ramallah
Tensions are high following violent Hamas-Fatah confrontations
Masked men have shot dead a local leader of the Palestinian governing movement Hamas, according to reports from the West Bank.

Witnesses said the gunmen shot Muhammad Odeh shortly after he left home in the village of Hableh, near Qalqilya, to pray at a nearby mosque.

The Israeli army denies involvement in the killing of Mr Odeh.

It comes after several days of fighting between Hamas militiamen and supporters of the rival Fatah faction.

Witnesses said the gunmen's car had the yellow licence plates of Israeli-registered vehicles. Cars with such plates are not uncommon in the West Bank, which has been occupied by Israel since 1967.

On Tuesday, the Fatah-supporting al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades reportedly threatened to kill several senior Hamas leaders, blaming them for the recent violence.

Clashes between Fatah and Hamas left 10 people dead and more than a 100 wounded in two days of violence that erupted on Sunday.

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