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Israeli Troops Kill Palestinian Fighter, More Palestinian Homes Demolished - 2003-02-01

Israeli troops shot and killed an armed Palestinian early Saturday, as he approached their outpost near the border with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military said its troops at the Rafah border crossing opened fire when they saw the gunman approaching them with an automatic rifle. They said they found several magazines of ammunition on his body.

The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine said one its members, a 19-year-old named Tamer Khoder, had carried out an attack on the Israeli position.

Israeli bulldozers tore down four Palestinian homes in Rafah. They have demolished dozens of houses there as part of what they say is a campaign to keep Palestinian gunmen from using them for cover.

Israeli troops also re-imposed a curfew on the West Bank city of Hebron, where they arrested 13 suspected militants overnight, and demolished the family homes of two Palestinians they said were involved in terrorist activities.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, meanwhile, has begun a series of talks aimed at forming a new governing coalition. His Likud party won 38 seats in Tuesday's elections for a new parliament, far short of the 61 needed for an absolute majority. Mr. Sharon has said he wants to build a national unity coalition with his traditional political rival, Labor, but that party's leader, Amram Mitzna, has ruled out joining Likud in a new government.