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Hamas Aide Caught at Border With $804,000


Palestinian security officials say they have confiscated $804,000 from a spokesman for the militant group Hamas, who tried to smuggle it into the Gaza Strip from Egypt.

There was a brief standoff after scores of Hamas gunmen rushed to the Rafah border crossing after security forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stopped the spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri. There were no reports of violence.

Officials say Zuhri did not comply with customs regulations on carrying large sums of money across the border. Hamas officials say the money came from donations from Arab nations for the cash-strapped Palestinian government.

Earlier, rival security forces for Hamas and Mr. Abbas's Fatah movement engaged in a gunbattle in Gaza City, wounding three people.

Tensions rose earlier this week when Hamas deployed a 3,000-strong police force made up mostly of militants, defying Mr. Abbas. In response, he ordered Palestinian police under his control to also deploy.

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned the creation of rival Palestinian security forces is creating a dangerous situation. She said all Palestinian parties should respect the need of the Palestinian people to not have violence in the streets.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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