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8 dead as Gaza battle rages

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NEW: Eight killed in clashes between Hamas and Fatah fighters in Gaza
• Fighting continued through the night shredding three-day-old truce
• New violence includes midnight shootout at Gaza's Islamic University
• Palestinian security sources said Hamas trying to take over Fatah bases
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GAZA CITY (CNN) -- Factional fighting echoed through the streets of Gaza City Friday as militia members of the ruling Palestinian Hamas party battled rivals from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement.

The current round of violence began with a fierce midnight shootout at Gaza's Islamic University and followed Thursday's clashes between Hamas and Fatah.

The two days of fighting have left at least eight dead and more than 100 wounded and shredded a cease-fire the two factions agreed upon earlier this week.

Palestinian security sources Friday said Hamas had killed four Fatah intelligence officers and were trying to take over Fatah bases in northern Gaza.

In overnight fighting, police under Fatah's control fought their way onto the university campus and seized hundreds of rocket-propelled grenades and more than 2,000 weapons, Palestinian security sources said.

Fatah also claimed to have detained six Iranian military officers, including a colonel and four men it called "chemical experts." Hamas denied the claims, for which there was no independent confirmation Friday.

U.S., European and Israeli officials have cut off support for the Palestinian government since Hamas -- which refuses to acknowledge Israel's right to exist -- won control of the Palestinian parliament from Fatah in elections a year ago.

Iran has extended financial, political and diplomatic support to the Palestinian Authority during that period, but previous Fatah claims that Hamas was receiving arms and military advisers from Tehran have turned out to be false.

Periodic clashes between the rival factions have persisted for months, with several cease-fires breaking down. The latest went into effect early Tuesday, after four days of fighting that left 29 dead and disrupted efforts to form a power-sharing government.

The agreement called for both sides to withdraw their armed militants from the street, except for Palestinian police, and stop all clashes, as well as refrain from making inflammatory comments.

Leaders of the factions also agreed to exchange kidnapped prisoners and participate in an urgent face-to-face meeting for national dialogue, according to Foreign Minister Mahmed Zahar.

Thursday's clashes began after Hamas' executive forces attacked a convoy from the Palestinian presidential guard that was carrying a shipment of guns and confiscated all of the weapons, Hamas sources told CNN.

Fatah spokesman Wa'il Dahab said the convoy, which was attacked in central Gaza, was carrying generators and trailer homes.

CNN's Ben Wedeman and Kevin Flower contributed to this report


A Palestinian woman shouts slogans during a demonstration against the internal violence between the two factions.




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