Palestinian militants have for the first time executed a woman suspected of collaborating with Israel. The woman has been shot dead in a public square in the West Bank, as a warning to others not to become informants for the Israeli security forces.

Palestinian residents of Tulkarm said members of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade had abducted the 35-year-old woman from her home.

The group is the armed wing of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, and has been at the forefront of much of the fighting during 23 months of bloody clashes with Israel.

Members of the group forced the woman to make a videotaped confession, before she was shot several times in the head and chest.

A Palestinian militia member said she had admitted to recruiting her 18-year-old son to assist her in helping the Israeli army. He was kidnapped earlier by Fatah gunmen, and allegedly confessed to telling his mother of the movements of the local chief of the militia group, Ziad Da'as.

A wanted member of the Brigades, Mr. Da'as and his deputy were shot dead on August 7 by Israeli forces.

Since the start of clashes in September 2000, more than 60 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been killed on suspicion of working for Israel's secret police, the Shin Bet.

At least 14 of them have been killed in Tulkarm in the past three months.

The Jerusalem Post newspaper reported Sunday that at least 200 Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel are also being held in Palestinian Authority prisons.

The inmates could face the death penalty, if convicted of assisting the Israelis.