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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 February 2007, 19:00 GMT
Rivals bid to revive Gaza truce
Hamas fighter in Gaza City
Fighters remain on the streets despite a deal to stand them down
Rival Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip have agreed to resume a ceasefire that had collapsed soon after it was first declared on Friday.

Palestinian Interior Minister Saeed Seyam said the governing Hamas movement and the Fatah faction again promised to remove their forces from the streets.

More than 20 people have been killed and 100 wounded in recent days.

The latest fighting came despite two ceasefires agreed since Tuesday, aimed at ending a bitter power struggle.

But on Saturday Mr Seyam told reporters he and Rashid Abu Shbak of Fatah agreed "an immediate ceasefire, removing gunmen from the streets and rooftops of buildings and removing all the checkpoints".

However the BBC's Alan Johnston in Gaza said a very similar plan was declared on Friday but failed to halt the violence.

After Mr Seyam spoke, gunfire continued to echo through the streets around him, our correspondent adds.

Bloodshed

Earlier Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya of Hamas and Fatah leaders appealed for calm.

The calls followed hours of violence which shattered the truce declared on Friday.

Map

There were fierce exchanges of machine gun and heavier fire in the central area around the Islamic University, a Hamas stronghold.

University workers ran for cover as Hamas and Fatah gunmen traded fire from the rooftops of nearby buildings, the Associated Press news agency reported.

About 60 people have been killed since 25 January, in the deadliest factional unrest in recent months in Gaza.

Reports say Palestinian Authority President and Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal will meet in Saudi Arabia next Tuesday to try to end the fighting.

This would be a second meeting for the two leaders after a summit in Damascus on 21 January ended without a breakthrough.

Hamas and Fatah have been trying to form a unity government for months.

They are deadlocked over Hamas' rejection of international calls for it to recognise Israel.

Western donors have been withholding direct aid, resulting in a deep economic crisis in the Palestinian territories.


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