Palestinian Authority cracks down in West Bank town

June 4, 2012 13:49

JENIN, West Bank - In the narrow streets of the Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin and the scruffy villages beyond, masked special forces bundle suspects into civilian cars with grim regularity, whisking them away to faraway Jericho prison.

The near-nightly crackle of gunfire, sometimes from drive-by shootings against police stations, has accompanied a crime wave in the northern city of Jenin, once a hub of militants and suicide attackers who struck into nearby Israel.

The Palestinian Authority (PA), in partial control of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, has responded aggressively, if belatedly and, critics say, with scant regard for due process.

The crackdown, led by elite presidential guards and the counter-terrorism unit, is seen as a determined bid by the Western-backed PA to regain control of the impoverished area and smash local networks that challenge its power.

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