oPt

Israeli forces kill six Gaza militants in raids

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By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA, June 27 (Reuters) - Israeli forces killed at least six Palestinian militants in two separate incidents in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, medics said.

Troops killed three gunmen and wounded four near the town of Khan Younis, while three militants died of shrapnel wounds in Gaza City, a doctor said.

Three of the dead gunmen belonged to the Islamist group Hamas, which seized Gaza this month after routing forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the secular Fatah faction.

Israel pulled its forces and settlers out of the Gaza Strip in 2005 but has not stopped air strikes and other attacks against militants.

Seven more Palestinians were injured near Gaza City. Palestinian witnesses also reported seeing an Israeli aircraft fire at least one missile into the area.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said an operation was underway near Khan Younis and there were reports of gunfire. She said she was checking reports of an additional military raid near Gaza City but said there was no air strike.

Representatives of the Quartet of Middle East mediators -- the United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations -- met in Jerusalem on Tuesday for talks aimed at boosting progress in talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority following Hamas's Gaza takeover.

The United States and Israel want to isolate Hamas in Gaza while bolstering Abbas and an emergency government he formed in the occupied West Bank after dismissing a unity cabinet led by Hamas.

A U.S. official in Washington said the Quartet was expected to name outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair as their Middle East envoy later in the day, after he steps down.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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