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Five militants killed in Gaza fire exchanges with Israeli troops
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11:53, April 20, 2008

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Five militants of Islamic Hamas movement were killed on Saturday in a series of attacks in eastern and southern Gaza Strip, medical officials in Gaza said.

Hamas security sources said that a Hamas police officer was killed and three were wounded in a fresh Israeli air strike carried at around noon. An Israeli aircraft targeted a Hamas police vehicle in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, witnesses said.

Mo'aweya Hassanein, chief of emergency and ambulance services in the Palestinian Health Ministry said the death toll of Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza Strip on Saturday rose to five.

In a predawn Israeli airstrike on eastern Gaza City neighborhood of Sheja'eya, an Islamic Hamas movement militant was killed and three were wounded, said Hassanein.

Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas movement's armed wing also announced on Saturday that three of its fighters were killed in an armed attack on Israeli soldiers at Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Gaza Strip.

Early on Saturday morning, three Hamas militants stormed Kerem Shalom crossing. They first detonated two booby-trapped cars at the entrance to the crossing, and then exchanged heavy gunfire with Israeli soldiers.

Israeli Radio Arabic service reported that 13 Israeli soldiers were wounded, one of whom, an officer, is in serious conditions. Israel accused Hamas for carrying out attacks on the crossing to mount Gaza residents' suffering.

The group said the attack on Kerem Shalom crossing on the border between southern Gaza Strip and Israel as "a warning before the explosion", in reference to more than 10 months of Israeli blockade imposed on Gaza.

Israeli Radio said that two cars exploded at a crossing on the Israel-Gaza Strip border on Saturday morning, leaving 13 Israeli soldiers hurt, two moderately and the rest lightly.

Hamas said in a leaflet that three cars approached the Kerem Shalom crossing under cover of dozens of mortar shells fired on the crossing amid heavy fog.

"One car exploded at the crossing's fence, ripping a hole through it, and allowing two additional vehicles to enter the crossing," said the leaflet.

It added that a second car then blew up close to several Israeli army Jeeps, and militants who exited from the third armored car engaged the Israeli soldiers in a gunfight.

Abu Obeida, spokesman for the Hamas military wing, said three booby-trapped cars were used in the attack on Kerem Shalom, adding that the three who carried out the attack were killed.


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