EU urges Palestinian factions to end violence

The European Union urged Palestinian groups to refrain from violence, saying on Sunday that continued fighting was worsening the plight of people in the Palestinian territories. "The EU calls on Palestinian groups to show restraint. It is urgent to stop the armed clashes, to work for national unity and to resume the peace process," an EU statement said. "This is the only way to ease the deteriorating humanitarian and economic situation in the Palestinian territories." The statement, issued by Finland, which currently holds the presidency of the 25-member bloc, came as factional fighting flared in Gaza when gunmen attacked the convoy of the Hamas foreign minister and raided a training base of security forces allied with President Mahmoud Abbas. Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar escaped unharmed, but Hamas accused Abbas' rival Fatah Party of being behind the attack. The attack came a day after the Palestinian leader announced he would end nine months of Hamas rule by calling early elections.