BBC News
September 28, 2008 - 8:00pm

A Palestinian found dead in the West Bank was not killed by Jewish settlers, Israeli police said, contradicting earlier claims by the man's family.

Shepherd Yahya Minya died from a shrapnel wound caused by a grenade, according to a police autopsy.

A police spokesman ruled out any possibility the grenade, of a type used by the Israeli military, was fired by residents of a nearby settlement.

Local people said Mr Minya was last seen being chased by settlers in a car.

"The autopsy showed the shepherd was killed from shrapnel from an explosion and not from gunshots," spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

"Investigations at the scene confirmed that the young man was killed by the explosion of a rifle grenade which he handled and that he either found there or was given to him," he added.

Mr Minya was from the Palestinian village of Aqraba, south of Nablus, in the Northern West Bank.

His relatives and Palestinian security officials had blamed settlers from the nearby Itamar settlement for causing his death.

Family members quoted by Reuters said there had been a white settler-owned car in the area and they had heard gunfire, although they did not see Mr Minya being shot.

His body was given a tradition martyr's funeral in the village, with the face exposed, but it was not clear what injuries he had received.

Several violent attacks have been reported on Palestinians by hardline Israeli settlers in recent months.

Outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert accused inhabitants of the Jewish settlement of Yitzhar, also near Nablus, of mounting a "pogrom" on a nearby Palestinian village.


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