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2 UN Workers, 8 Others Killed in Israeli Army Raid

Two United Nations workers were among 10 Palestinians killed Friday, following an Israeli army raid in the Gaza Strip.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency says two of its employees were amongst those killed in chaotic gun battles in the Gaza Strip.

The agency, which provides support to Palestinian refugees, identified one of the two workers as Osama Hassan Tahrawi, who was killed along with two of his brothers by a missile.

The other employee was Ahlam Riziq Kandil, a primary school teacher, who died from shrapnel wounds.

The fighting began when Israeli troops, backed by tanks and helicopter gunships, began hunting for a wanted Palestinian fugitive in the crowded Bureij refugee camp.

Calls went out from mosques through loudspeakers, urging residents to come out and battle the soldiers, who entered the camp just after midnight.

It was unclear how many of the dead were Palestinian gunmen. Israel says it fired a missile into a street, killing five armed men from the militant Islamic group Hamas.

Israeli army spokeswoman Captain Sharon Feingold says the soldiers performed their duty well and the operation was justified. "We conducted a pinpoint operation in the Gaza Strip, in El-Bureij, targeting a senior Hamas terrorist," she said. "This was one of many operations in the Gaza Strip, in order to target these terrorists, who are hiding in the Gaza Strip behind the civilian population, and using the civilian population to conduct the terrorist activities from within."

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat attacked the Israeli government for authorizing the army incursion, and said it must be held accountable for its actions.

He accused Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon of trying to sabotage efforts by the Palestinian Authority to persuade Palestinian militant groups to halt their attacks. "We hold the Israeli government fully responsible for this crime and its consequences," he said. "It seems to me that the Sharon government is determined to escalate the situation, at a time when we were going through a Palestinian-Palestinian dialogue, in order to have a sustained cease-fire. Sharon's government is insisting in escalating the situation in order to undermine these efforts."

The raid came a day after Mr. Sharon said Osama bin-Laden's al-Qaida network had established a presence in Palestinian self-rule areas of the Gaza Strip, as well as Lebanon. He said Israel will take what he called "appropriate measures" to guarantee security.