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Palestinian Fatah Loyalists Form Militia to Counter Hamas Unit

Gunmen from the Palestinian Fatah movement have announced formation of a two thousand member militia, in an apparent move to counter a new security force unveiled by the rival group Hamas.

Last week, Hamas, which swept to power in parliamentary elections in January, said it was forming a four thousand-strong paramilitary force to maintain order in the Palestinian territories.

The specter of competing Palestinian security forces has raised concern for potential violence between the factions.

Fatah sources Wednesday told a VOA reporter their new force is not designed to compete with Hamas.
Those comments contradicted those of a Fatah spokesman who told Reuters news agency the force is being organized in a challenge to the Hamas militia.

Several dozen people were wounded last month in factional clashes after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected Hamas' appointment of a leading Gaza militant to head the Hamas-dominated security unit.

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