BBC World News
June 4, 2009 - 12:00am

hree Hamas militants and a member of the Palestinian Authority security forces died in the clashes, a Palestinian official has said.

The clashes took place in the the northern West Bank town of Qalqilya.

It comes days after six people died in a gun battle in the town between Hamas fighters and police.

A Hamas spokesman in Gaza Strip said the operations against Hamas members had "killed all chances" for the success of the talks in Egypt aimed at reconciling Hamas and the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority.

Palestinian security forces spokesman Major General Adnan Damiri said Hamas militants opened fire as soon as PA forces reached the area, and negotiations were held with those inside the house.

The Palestinian Authority has carried out waves of arrests of West Bank residents it alleges are linked to the rival political faction Hamas over the past couple of years.

But this incident is the second attempted arrest to have ended with deadly clashes in the past week.

On Sunday, two Hamas men, three Palestinian policemen and one civilian died as the police attempted to arrest the alleged militants.

Some arrests have been seen by critics as politically motivated and linked to the feud between PA President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction and Hamas in Gaza - although the PA says it is simply enforcing law and order.

However, the Palestinian Authority, backed up by US support and training, is also tasked with clamping down on militant activity in the West Bank.

Hamas posted a statement on its website warning that attempts to "assassinate mujahudeen" - holy fighters - would cause the situation in the West Bank to "blow up".


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