Sun, Aug 12, 2007 - Page 6 News List

Hamas crashes wedding

AP , GAZA CITY

Hamas militiamen detained 32 Fatah supporters across Gaza, half of them after breaking up a wedding and beating guests with clubs and chairs, Fatah officials and witnesses said yesterday. Ten people were hurt.

After taking control of Gaza by force in June, Hamas had promised amnesty to Fatah loyalists and it was not immediately clear whether the arrests late on Friday and early yesterday signaled the start a crackdown on Fatah or were isolated incidents.

In the northern town of Beit Hanoun, 15 Fatah supporters were arrested, after Hamas security men broke up a wedding of Fatah loyalists on Friday.

The Hamas force policing Gaza said it stopped the celebration because guests shot in the air, disturbing the peace, and confirmed four arrests. Fatah activists denied anyone had fired in the air.

Wedding footage filmed by a cameraman from the local Ramattan news agency showed guests singing Fatah songs in praise of Abbas and his predecessor, the late Yasser Arafat.

The footage, broadcast on the West Bank-based Palestine TV, showed four jeeps carrying Hamas security men arriving at the scene, some shooting in the air and others wielding clubs. A scuffle ensued, and the Hamas men were seen beating guests with sticks and chairs.

After the incident, about 150 women and youngsters marched to the headquarters of the Hamas police in Beit Hanoun. The protesters and security men yelled at each other, pushing and shoving.

Medical personnel said that in all, 10 people were hurt in the confrontations.

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