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Israeli soldiers kill 2 Gaza infiltrators
Updated: 2004-10-18 14:41

Israeli soldiers shot and killed two Palestinian gunmen in a shootout in southern Israel after they had infiltrated from the Gaza Strip, an Israeli military source said.

The incident was the first reported violence in the area since Israel withdrew forces at the weekend after a 17-day offensive in northern Gaza in which 104 Palestinians and three Israelis and a Thai farmworker were killed.

Hamas militants said the gunmen belonged to their group, but there was no immediate Palestinian comment on the fatalities.

Soldiers had opened fire on the gunmen after spotting them in an orchard near a kibbutz or collective farm, and a gunbattle ensued, the source and Israeli radios said. About an hour later both gunmen were killed.

Both militants were shot by soldiers, but one died after an explosion went off, possibly due to a bomb he was carrying, the source said.

The source said that soldiers launched searches in the area for another suspected explosive that the gunmen may have planted.

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