Warning shots are fired as Fatah activists meet

Arafat loyalists say group plotting against leader

August 02, 2004|By Ken Ellingwood | Ken Ellingwood,LOS ANGELES TIMES

JERUSALEM - Gunmen claiming allegiance to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat fired warning shots outside a meeting hall in the West Bank city of Nablus where members of Arafat's Fatah movement gathered yesterday to discuss internal reforms, witnesses said.

No one was injured when about 15 masked members of the Al Awda Brigades fired their weapons to express displeasure over what they said was a move against the Palestinian Authority president.

In Gaza early today, soldiers opened fire as bulldozers destroyed a building, and a woman was killed when a bullet came in through her window, residents said. Six other civilians were wounded, doctors said.

Military sources said the operation was aimed at the "terrorist infrastructure" in the camp. The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said militants used the location to fire mortars and rifles at a nearby Jewish settlement.

In the Fatah shooting incident, about 60 Fatah activists from rural communities outside Nablus were meeting to discuss the recent turmoil in the Palestinian Authority and to draft a protest statement to Arafat, one of the activists, Ghassan Douglas, said in a telephone interview.

He said the armed men, who act as a private militia for Arafat, believed that the activists were plotting against the president. "The purpose of the meeting was misunderstood," Douglas said.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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