Palestinian forces loyal to President Mahmoud Abbas stormed a Hamas hideout in the West Bank and set off a fierce gun battle that left six dead today, the worst violence since the factions fought a pitched battle over Gaza 2 years ago. Militants lobbed grenades and fired automatic weapons to push back the raid in a two-story building in Qalqiliya, a West Bank town with a strong Hamas presence.
When it was over, pools of blood, tear gas canisters, and hundreds of spent shell casings littered the floor. Walls were partly burned down during the battle. Qalqiliya, which elected a Hamas mayor in 2005, was tense today. Sporadic gunfire erupted in other areas of town, and police said the shots came from Hamas loyalists targeting officers, though there were no reports of injuries.