(AFP) – Two Hamas security force members were killed Thursday as they carried out a raid that resulted in the arrest of a suspect in a recent bomb attack against the Palestinian prime minister, officials said.
Senior Hamas official Salah al Bardawil issued a statement announcing the arrest of the suspect and two accomplices as well as the deaths of members of the security forces during the raid in the Gaza Strip.
An AFP correspondent saw the bodies of two security force members at the hospital and a senior police officer at the scene also confirmed the deaths on condition of anonymity.
A clash had erupted earlier in the day in Nuseirat in central Gaza as Hamas security forces engaged in a manhunt for the suspect.
Dozens of new checkpoints were also erected throughout the Palestinian enclave and armed security forces were searching cars, an AFP correspondent said.
Palestinian prime minister Rami Hamdallah was unhurt by the roadside blast that struck his convoy on March 13, in what Palestinian officials have called an assassination attempt as he entered the Hamas-run strip on a rare visit.
Hamas did not give a possible motive for the attack on Hamdallah, head of government in president Mahmud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority.
On Monday, Abbas accused Hamas of being behind the blast and said he would take new measures in response, without specific details.
Hamas and the West Bank-based PA have been bitter rivals for a decade since the Islamists seized control of Gaza.
The bombing appears to have brought to an end hopes for an already floundering reconciliation deal between Hamas and Abbas’s Fatah party, which dominates the PA.