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(photo credit:Ahmad Gharabli )
A Palestinian journalist working for the Palestinian Authority's official news agency Wafa was severely beaten Tuesday by masked gunmen who stormed his office in Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip and destroyed all the equipment and furniture.
The identity of the attackers was not known and no group claimed responsibility. However, Fatah officials told The Jerusalem Post they were almost certain that the attack was carried out by Hamas members.
Eyewitnesses said about five gunmen participated in the attack. Amr al-Fara, head of Wafa's bureau in Khan Yunis, was taken to a hospital with moderate wounds, they added.
"The attackers destroyed all the computers and laptops in the office," said a local reporter. "Before they left, they sprayed graffiti on the wall accusing the agency of not being objective."
In a statement, Wafa, which is under the jurisdiction of the office of PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, condemned the assault as a "murderous crime and an offense on the freedom of expression."
The agency did not hold any party responsible for the attack, but urged the PA security forces to do their utmost to arrest the perpetrators and bring them to trial.
Khan Yunis governor Osama al-Farra strongly condemned the attack, saying it reflected the continued state of anarchy and lawlessness in PA-controlled areas.
Fatah officials accused Hamas of standing behind the attack, noting that Hamas leaders have been inciting against Fatah-affiliated media outlets over the past few months.
PA Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar recently accused Palestine TV of waging a politically-motivated campaign of incitement against him.
Other Hamas spokesmen pointed out that Abbas's aides were using PA-funded newspapers, radio and TV stations and Web sites to defame Hamas and undermine its government.
The attack on the offices of Wafa is the latest in a series of assaults on Palestinian journalists in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the past four years.
At least 16 Palestinian journalists have been either killed or wounded in various attacks by armed groups and PA security forces.
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