Clashes between Gaza clan gunmen and Hamas kill four

By Xinhua

Gaza : Four Palestinians were killed and 15 wounded in clashes between one of Gaza City’s clans and the Hamas movement’s police in the Gaza Strip, medics and witnesses said.

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Mo’aweya Hassanein, chief of emergency in the Palestinian health ministry, told reporters that two Hamas police officers and two members of Helles clan from eastern Gaza City were killed and 15 wounded from both sides Wednesday.

Witnesses said fierce clashes erupted Wednesday evening in the Sheja’eya neighbourhood in eastern Gaza City between Helles clan’s gunmen and the ruling Hamas police.

They added that heavy gunfire and explosions were heard in the neighbourhood, while ambulances were carrying casualties from the neighbourhood to Shiffa Hospital.

A Hamas interior ministry statement sent to reporters said the clashes began when a group from the Helles clan violated a traffic rule and fought with traffic police officers, adding they opened fire at Hamas traffic police.

The statement added that an agreement had been reached between the police and heads of the clan to hand over those who violated the rule and confiscate their guns.

“But when they refused to obey the law, our forces moved towards the neighbourhood to detain them, and the Helles clan’s gunmen initiated the attack and opened fire at our forces,” said the statement.

It is the first fierce armed clashes of its kind between the Helles clan’s gunmen, most of whom are members of the Fatah movement, and rival Hamas forces. Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip by force in mid June.