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3 Israelis Reportedly Slain in Gaza

Mideast: 2 Palestinian gunmen are also killed during attack on an army outpost, sources say. The gun battle shatters a weeklong lull in fighting.


JERUSALEM — Palestinian gunmen attacked an Israeli army outpost on the border with the Gaza Strip this morning, shooting dead three soldiers and injuring six others, Israeli sources reported. Two Palestinian gunmen were shot dead in the incident, the sources said.

The shooting shattered a lull in Israeli-Palestinian violence that Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer had described Tuesday night as the quietest week since the outbreak of fighting in September 2000.

It came as the Bush administration is pressing both sides to impose a cease-fire and return to negotiations, and it is bound to set back those efforts.

Details of the incident were sketchy because the army was withholding information pending notification of relatives. However, knowledgeable Israeli sources said a unit of Israeli Bedouin troops who were staffing a border outpost near Kibbutz Kerem Shalom, close to the southern Gaza border town of Rafiah, came under fire about 4:30 a.m.

The two Palestinian gunmen shot dead in the incident were reportedly wearing Palestinian police uniforms. Palestinian sources reached in the Gaza Strip said they could not independently confirm the reports.

Israel Radio reported this morning that forces were on high alert along the border with Gaza. Army Radio said a "military incident" occurred.

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