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By Times wires
Published November 13, 2007
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip
A rally of more than 250,000 Fatah supporters ended in mayhem Monday, with Hamas police opening fire and demonstrators hurling rocks or running for cover. Seven civilians were killed and dozens of people were wounded in the intra-Palestinian violence.
The rally in a Gaza City square, marking the Nov. 11, 2004, death of iconic Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, posed the strongest challenge to Hamas rule in Gaza since the Islamic militant group seized the impoverished territory by force in June.
Fatah's unexpected show of strength was also its most persuasive argument that its leader, moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, has a mandate to renew peacemaking with Israel at a U.S.-hosted Mideast conference in Maryland this month.
Hamas said five of its policemen were wounded by sniper fire from the roof of the pro-Fatah Al Azhar University near the rally.
After nightfall, Hamas forces arrested 27 Fatah activists involved in planning the rally, Fatah officials said. They also confiscated computers and documents from a Fatah media office.
Maliki hopes to end curfew in Baghdad
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki hopes to soon declare an end to a nine-month-old security plan and curfew in Baghdad because of a recent decline in violence, Iraqi officials said Monday.
Maliki expects to gradually lift the curfew, which now extends from midnight to 5 a.m., and to reopen this month 10 roads in the capital that have been shut as a security precaution, according to one of his aides.
The aide cautioned that the plans could be altered depending on fast-moving conditions on the ground.
The anticipated changes reflect a growing confidence among Iraqi government officials that the buildup of U.S. troops that began in February has succeeded in reducing sectarian bloodshed across Iraq.
Meanwhile, incidents across the country on Monday killed at least 29 people, an Interior Ministry official said.
In the holy Shiite city of Karbala, the government fired 340 police officers it said were linked to Shiite militias.
Somalia: Somali government soldiers on Monday mounted a door-to-door search of a major marketplace in Mogadishu in search of Islamist insurgents as shell-shocked residents continued a massive exodus from the Somali capital. More than 114,000 people fled their homes over the past two weeks, according to United Nations estimates released Friday.
Cambodia: Ieng Sary and Ieng Thirith, a husband-and-wife team of communist revolutionaries who held senior positions in the murderous Khmer Rouge government in Cambodia in the 1970s, were arrested in Phnom Penh and charged with crimes against humanity on Monday.
Finland: The teenage outcast who killed eight people and himself in a high school shooting may have had Internet contacts with a Pennsylvania youth accused of plotting a possible school attack, police said.
Afghanistan: Sixty U.S. service members from countries including Cuba, Ethiopia, the Philippines and Vietnam became American citizens during a ceremony on Monday.
[Last modified November 12, 2007, 22:42:12]