At least 11 people were killed today when Hamas-run security forces clashed with a powerful local family in Gaza City, Palestinian security officials said. The fighting, in which another seven people were wounded, erupted when Hamas police moved to arrest members of the Doghmush clan accused of gunning down a police officer yesterday. Witnesses said they heard heavy gunfire and the blasts of rocket-propelled grenades in the city's Sabra neighbourhood, a clan stronghold.
A spokesman for the Hamas-run security forces said at least one police officer was killed in the fighting, and medics identified one of the dead as a member of the Doghmush clan. The identities of the others were not yet known. Several members of the clan, one of the most powerful families in the impoverished coastal strip, are suspected of belonging to the Army of Islam, a small shadowy armed group inspired by al Qa'eda.
The Army of Islam was behind the kidnapping of BBC reporter Alan Johnston in 2007 and claimed responsibility for the capture of an Israeli soldier in a deadly cross-border raid in 2006. Since Hamas seized power in Gaza in June 2007, after routing Fatah forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, it has had tense relations with the group that have occasionally spilt over into street clashes.
Today's fighting was the deadliest in the territory since the start of August, when several people were killed and dozens wounded in a similar battle between Hamas police and another clan, the Hellis, which is close to Fatah. * AFP