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1 Dead, At Least 17 Wounded in Gaza Clash - 2004-03-17

Gunmen from the Palestinian militant group Hamas fought a gun battle with Palestinian security officers in front of Palestinian military intelligence headquarters in Gaza City on Wednesday. One man not involved in the fighting was killed, and at least 17 people were wounded. The Palestinian security forces issued a statement saying the violence began when officers stopped a car full of Hamas members in front of the headquarters building.

It said the casualties resulted when the men in the car began throwing hand grenades. The security forces warned those responsible to stop trying to create chaos.

A spokesman for Hamas blamed gunfire from security forces for what he termed the unfortunate incident.

Reporters in Gaza describe a tense situation following the fighting. They say Palestinian security forces have taken up positions around the main military headquarters.

The security forces have stepped up patrols in Gaza in recent days in response to signs of a breakdown in law and order. There has been a series of attacks on symbols of the Palestinian Authority and assaults on media figures, including the shooting death of a journalist with close ties to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.