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Fatah Reported Leading In West Bank Municipal Elections

Preliminary election results from the West Bank indicate the mainstream Fatah faction is leading in the first Palestinian municipal elections since 1976 despite a strong showing by the militant Islamic group Hamas.

Some 150,000 eligible voters cast ballots Thursday in 26 West Bank localities. Official results are expected Saturday.

In the coming months, similar elections are due to be held in stages in the rest of the Palestinian territories.

Thursday's vote was seen as a test of popularity between Fatah and Hamas. Hamas has already said it will not participate in the Palestinian presidential elections set for January 9. Former Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, Fatah's candidate, leads that race.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, Israeli and Palestinian officials say Israeli troops killed three members of the militant Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.