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Gunmen kill children of Hamas critic
Three children of a leading Hamas critic were killed in a drive-by shooting today, raising fears of an escalation in Palestinian infighting.
Palestinian gunmen in two vehicles fired up to 60 bullets into the car of Baha Balousheh, a senior intelligence officer loyal to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, as it passed through a street crowded with schoolchildren in Gaza City.
Security officials said they believed Mr Balousheh, who was not in the car, had been the target of an assassination attempt, noting that the car had blacked-out windows which blocked any view of passengers. The seats, school bags and a plastic bag with a sandwich in it were splattered with blood.
Three of Mr Balousheh's children, aged between six and 10, and an adult passerby were killed, hospital officials said. Another four people were wounded in the shooting in Palestine Street, which is lined with nine schools. Children dropped to the ground or fled screaming during the attack.
Mr Balousheh, a lead interrogator during a crackdown on Hamas, is considered one of the main enemies of the ruling Islamic movement.
At midday, thousands of angry Fatah supporters joined a mass funeral procession for the children that snaked through the city streets. Hundreds of Fatah security officers were in the crowd, firing their rifles in the air.
Mr Balousheh arrived surrounded by bodyguards, wiping his eyes as he fought back tears. Two of his dead sons, still wearing their school uniforms, were carried in the arms of family members. One of the boys had 10 bullet holes in his head, it was reported.