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Militiaman Wounded in Shooting

April 16, 2001

HEBRON, West Bank (AP) _ A Palestinian militiaman was wounded Monday by a burst of bullets fired at his car in the West Bank town of Hebron. He accused Israel of trying to kill him, but the Israeli army said it was not aware of a shooting in the area at the time.

The incident came only hours before Israelis and Palestinians were to hold talks on renewing security cooperation _ their latest attempt to work toward a cessation to months of violence that has killed 469 people.

The Palestinians have accused Israel of killing at least 15 Palestinians suspected of involvement in attacks on Israelis in the past seven months. Israel has claimed responsibility for some of the pinpointed killings but has not commented on others.

Hebron has been the scene of frequent gun battles, including an exchange of fire late Sunday that lasted for several hours and injured three Palestinian civilians.

The man injured Monday, Abdel Hadi Natche, said the incident began when he left his home around 9 a.m. and got into his car parked outside.

``The minute I entered my car, I heard bullets,″ said Natche, a member of the Tanzim militia linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s Fatah faction. ``I got out the other side and took cover behind a wall.″

He said he believed Israel was behind the attack.

Natche was shot in the left hand by a large-caliber bullet, according to doctors at Ahli Hospital in Hebron. Eleven bullets hit the front of his car, including three that penetrated the windshield on the driver’s side.

In the Gaza Strip, four mortar shells hit the Jewish settlement of Netzer Hazani overnight, causing no damage or injuries, the army said. Palestinian mortar attacks have triggered Israeli retaliation in the past, including rocket attacks and the razing of buildings.

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