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Gunmen kill Hamas-linked judge
A prominent Islamic judge linked to Hamas was today shot dead by Palestinian gunmen as he arrived at court in the Gaza Strip.
Bassam al-Fara, a civil court judge and a senior member of the faction's armed wing, was killed in the southern town of Khan Younis, Palestinian sources said.
The drive-by shooting came two days after the three young children of a Fatah-allied Palestinian intelligence officer were killed as they were driven to school, sparking renewed conflict between the Hamas and Fatah factions.
Escalating tensions in the area have reduced the chances of the two sides forming a united government, instead pushing them closer to all-out hostilities.
In a statement to reporters, Hamas openly blamed Fatah for today's killing. Fauzi Barhoum, a spokesman for the militant group, said the perpetrators would be brought to justice.
"This is an ugly crime committed against one of the field commanders of the Hamas military wing and one of the prominent figures in Hamas," he said.
"Hamas is not going to forget the blood of its members. It is going to pursue and bring to justice those who were involved in today's crime."
Tawfik Abu Khoussa, a Fatah spokesman, rejected the Hamas accusations. "We condemn all acts of anarchy, whatever may be behind them ... we call on the brothers in Hamas to stop firing accusations before the investigation," he said.
Witnesses to the ambush said four gunmen waited for Mr Fara outside the courthouse, eating their breakfast at a nearby food stand.
When he emerged from a taxi, three of the men grabbed him and forced him to his knees and the fourth pulled out a weapon and shot him.