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Israeli Forces Withdraw from Tulkarm - 2002-05-25

Israeli military forces have pulled out of the West Bank town of Tulkarm after arresting at least four Palestinian militants. An Israeli soldier was killed during the operation, and Palestinian witnesses say at least eight civilians were wounded by Israeli fire.

Israeli troops withdrew from Tulkarm, ending a two-day sweep for Palestinian militants. The Israeli army says forces have now deployed around the town.

Israeli soldiers carried out house-to-house searches and exchanged fire with Palestinian gunmen. The army says it found a bomb in one home and diffused it.

The Israeli army says one soldier was killed and at least two wounded on Friday after their armored vehicle was ambushed.

The raid into Tulkarm followed several suicide bombings earlier this week. A number of militants from the town have carried out attacks against Israelis since the Palestinian uprising began in September 2000.

Some of the most recent attacks have been claimed by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a group linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction.

Palestinian militants have vowed to continue their uprising, despite a demand by Mr. Arafat that attacks on Israeli civilians be stopped.

Also Saturday, the Israeli army says its soldiers detained a Palestinian teenager wearing a belt containing explosives. The teenager was riding in a taxi that was stopped at a roadblock in the West Bank.

Soldiers discovered the belt when the passengers in the taxi were ordered to lift their shirts in a security check.

The army says the belt was neutralized and the potential suicide bomber, along with the other Palestinians in the taxi, were taken away for questioning.

Meanwhile, Palestinians say a baby died Saturday close to Bethlehem when the mother was forced to give birth near an Israeli checkpoint.

Palestinians say the mother's car was blocked from going to the hospital, and an ambulance arrived too late to assist with the birth.

An Israeli army spokesman denied the woman was detained and said she was already under the care of the Palestinian ambulance team when soldiers arrived on the scene.