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Poll: Abbas, Fatah Lead Hamas in Popularity

A new opinion poll shows the popularity of the Palestinian militant group Hamas has declined among residents of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

The poll, released Monday by the independent Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, shows the Fatah party of President Mahmoud Abbas with a 14 percentage point edge over Hamas among Palestinians.

The survey also says Palestinians rated Mr. Abbas' leadership in the West Bank over that of Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas-run government that controls the Gaza Strip. Hamas seized control of Gaza from Fatah last year.

In other news, Palestinian medical officials say Israeli troops shot and seriously wounded a mentally handicapped Palestinian man during an overnight raid in the West Bank.

Witnesses say the troops entered the village of Nilin late Sunday to arrest the man's brother in connection with a disturbance at a protest.

The Israeli military says its troops fired rubber-coated bullets at the man after he attacked a soldier and tried to steal his gun during his brother's arrest.

Witnesses say the man is mentally disabled, and communicating could have led to confusion during the incident.

Nilin is the site of frequent Palestinian demonstrations against an extension of Israel's controversial security barrier in the West Bank.

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