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Israeli forces on West Bank raid clash with gunmen
( 2003-08-08 13:23)

Israeli soldiers on a raid to detain a Palestinian militant clashed with gunmen in the West Bank on Friday in violence that rocked a month-old ceasefire, witnesses said.

The witnesses saw one body, covered by a blanket, outside a building surrounded by Israeli troops in Askar refugee camp in the city of Nablus.

"During the night, a pinpoint operation was mounted to arrest a senior fugitive," an Israeli military source said.

"Massive fire was opened at the force from the third floor of a building. The soldiers returned fire and there was a series of explosions on the same floor, indicating there were explosives there. As a result, the floor collapsed," he said.

The source, who gave no information on casualties, said the troops were still searching for the wanted man.

Local residents identified him as a member of the military wing of Hamas, one of the Palestinian militant groups that declared on June 29 a three-month ceasefire in an uprising for statehood.

The level of Israeli-Palestinian violence has dropped dramatically since the truce went into effect.

But Israel has been mounting occasional raids in the West Bank to detain wanted militants, accusing militant groups of preparing for renewed hostilities once the ceasefire ends.

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