Gunmen wound Fatah official in Gaza

Labor union head Bayrie, a Hamas critic, was with his family when ambushed.

al-aksa martyrs 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
al-aksa martyrs 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Palestinian gunmen ambushed a top union leader as he drove in the Gaza Strip on Friday, moderately wounding the man before fleeing in his vehicle, officials and relatives said. There was no claim of responsibility for the shooting of Ghassem Bayrie, head of the 45,000-member national Palestinian labor union. But Bayrie is a prominent Fatah loyalist in the Gaza Strip and has feuded with the rival Hamas movement in the past. Palestinian police said Bayrie, 50, was driving in a union minivan with his family when they were ambushed. Bayrie was shot in the leg, and the entire family was forced out of the vehicle before the gunmen sped away. Union spokesman Rezek Bayrie, brother of the leader, said the shooting was part of the "lawlessness and ongoing anarchy" in Gaza. "This is a crime and the authorities and the government must act to end this," he said. "We are not accusing anyone except the enemy of our people." Bayrie has been an outspoken critic of Hamas and is close to Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan. During a recent wave of infighting over the winter, Hamas militants attacked union offices and destroyed the union's radio station, accusing it of inciting against the group. Hamas has also accused Bayrie of corruption. Fatah and Hamas month formed a coalition government aimed in large part at ending the infighting and crime wave gripping the Gaza Strip. While the deal has reduced the infighting, tensions remain and general violence, including kidnappings, armed robberies and religiously motivated attacks on Internet cafes, have continued. Earlier Friday, Fatah and Hamas gunmen clashed briefly near the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, wounding five people, officials said. The clash erupted after Hamas loyalists tried to display a banner outside a mosque in a neighborhood inhabited by Fatah loyalists, officials said.