PA police kill driver in Ramallah

Outraged residents take to the streets after man shot for ignoring checkpoint.

pa police 88 (photo credit: )
pa police 88
(photo credit: )
Police in the West Bank town of Ramallah opened fire Sunday on a driver who refused to stop to show his documents, touching off an impromptu protest by dozens of outraged residents, witnesses said. Doctors at the Ramallah hospital said the 23-year-old driver, Anas al-Agroudi, was shot in the chest and in serious condition. West Bank police recently launched a campaign to confiscate illegal weapons and stolen cars, and have been carrying out snap inspections. This was the first incident of violence in Ramallah since the campaign began late last month. Some of the roughly 100 people who took to the streets to protest the shooting were militiamen affiliated with the young guard of the ruling Fatah Party, which hopes to take control of the Palestinian parliament after January 25 elections. They taunted police and persuaded dozens of shopowners to shut down their businesses and join the demonstration. Less than a day earlier, Palestinian clan violence claimed five lives as rival gangs clashed in the streets of the Gaza Strip city of Beit Hanoun. A Palestinian policeman was among the dead as Palestinian security forces struggled to restore calm among flying bullets and rocket-propelled grenades. The latest internicene violence underscores the difficult questions which the Palestinian Authority faces as to its ability to maintain law and order in areas vacated by Israel. On Friday, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas vowed to end the violence that marred last week's primary elections across the Palestinian territories. On a three-day visit to Italy, Abbas stressed that "the issue of security, of public order and of the end of violence represents a vital interest for our people." "The monopoly of force must belong to the Palestinian Authority alone," Abbas said, adding that the Palestinians "must guarantee participation, security and transparency" in next month's parliamentary elections, Abbas said after talks with Italy's head of state, President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. Flanked by Abbas, Ciampi said that to achieve peace and independence for his people, the Palestinian leader must "maintain public order, fight subversive and terrorist movements and make them lose strength."