Fatah takes credit, but gives conflicting versions of bombers

PA denies report that attack originated from West Bank.

February 4, 2008 23:10
2 minute read.


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Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, claimed responsibility for Monday's suicide attack in Dimona, saying it came in response to Israeli "aggression" against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The group identified the suicide bombers as Musa Arafat, from the village of Abasan south of the Gaza Strip, and Luai al-Aghwani of Gaza City. Sources in the Gaza Strip said Musa Arafat was known as a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. They said he had visited Egypt several times since the border was breached two weeks ago. According to the sources, al-Aghwani was a member of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades. Despite the announcement, Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah denied that Fatah was behind the attack. They said they did not rule out the possibility that the terrorists belonged to Hamas or Islamic Jihad. Earlier, another branch of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades named the suicide bombers as Raji Hassan Kilani and Ayman Ramzi Hadadin, both from the West Bank. Upon learning about the attack, jubilant Palestinians took to the streets to distribute sweets and flowers to drivers in different parts of the Gaza Strip. Fatah gunmen fired shots into the air to express their joy over the attack. "This operation came as a natural response to the Zionist aggression and massacres against our people," the first group said in a statement published in the Gaza Strip. "We want to reaffirm to the Zionist enemy that their walls and barriers won't bring them security in Tel Aviv or Dimona and that the only thing left for them to do is to leave our occupied Palestinian land." Spokesmen for the Aksa Martyrs Brigades also gave different statements as to how the suicide bombers reached Dimona. Some claimed the two had infiltrated Israel after crossing over into Sinai through the breached border with Egypt, while others said the two managed to enter Israel from the Palestinian territories. At a press conference in the Gaza Strip, Abu Walid, a spokesman for the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, called on all Palestinian armed groups to launch attacks on Israel. He also urged Fatah and Hamas to resume talks over ending their dispute. In Ramallah, PA Information Minister Riad al-Malki said his government was not responsible for the attack since the terrorists came from the Gaza Strip, and not the West Bank. He said the attack wouldn't affect peace negotiations with Israel because it hadn't been launched from the West Bank. Malki dismissed as untrue claims that the suicide bombers had come from the West Bank. Abbas's office issued a statement condemning the attack, as well as the killing of two Islamic Jihad gunmen in Jenin by the IDF late Sunday.

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