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RAMALLAH, West Bank (CNN) -- Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas appealed for calm late Sunday after protests by long-unpaid police officers led to violent clashes in Gaza that left nine people dead.
The rioting grew out of demonstrations against the cash-strapped Palestinian government led by the Islamic militant movement Hamas, which has been unable to pay police or other government workers for months.
Palestinian security sources said the demonstrations in Gaza turned into violent street clashes, leaving at least nine people dead and 90 others wounded. There were no reports of injuries in separate West Bank protests.
Abbas, the leader of the rival Fatah movement, called for unity and said the clashes could lead to "catastrophic" turmoil.
"I appeal to all factions to be responsible, to abandon their differences and to ensure dialogue, especially in the time we are facing an Israeli threat to reoccupy Gaza Strip," he said in a televised speech Sunday night.
Periodic clashes have rocked the streets of Gaza since Hamas won control of the Palestinian government earlier this year.
Hamas refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist and has been designated as a terrorist organization by Israel, the United States and the European Union.
All three cut off international aid to the Palestinian government after Hamas took control, demanding that it renounce terrorism and drop its call for Israel's destruction.
Sunday's violence in Gaza began when Palestinians took to the streets to protest seven months without a paycheck. Hamas sent its executive security force into the streets to confront the protesting police, security sources said.
Most Palestinian police and security forces are Fatah loyalists. But Abbas ordered all police and security forces to end their role in the demonstrations and demanded that Prime Minister Ismail Haniya's government end the crisis through "peaceful and democratic means."
In the West Bank, protesters broke into the Council of Ministers building in Ramallah that houses the ministers' offices, set a fire and threw papers and files from the windows, the security sources told CNN.
Video of the aftermath showed smoke coming out of the windows and scattered papers surrounding the building, but the outside of the building showed little damage.
Smoke from burning tires was seen rising near the parliament building in Gaza City, and sporadic gunfire could be heard. Among those reported dead were a member of the presidential guard, a Hamas security officer, a police officer and a 15-year-old, the sources said.
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