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Three dead in raging Palestinian gunbattle

Palestinians fight one another as political power shifts

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Members of the Popular Resistance Committees take cover during clashes Friday in Gaza City.

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GAZA CITY (CNN) -- A gunbattle on Friday that erupted between Palestinian security forces and the militant Palestinian Resistance Committees killed three people -- a security force member, a Popular Resistance member and a civilian, medical sources said.

At least 25 other people were wounded in the firefight, medical sources said, which raged for at least three hours in the streets of Gaza City.

The gunbattle began during a news conference just after the commander of the Palestinian Resistance Committees was killed in an explosion.

In the conference, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees blamed security forces for killing Abu Yousef Abu Quka, his group's top commander.

A CNN journalist witnessed the security forces open fire on the Resistance Committees spokesman, Abu Abir, who was not wounded.

The gunbattle then spread from the site of the news conference to Abu Quka's funeral and to the northern part of Gaza City, where the fighting continued three hours after the initial shooting.

The firefight follows political upheaval in the region that has changed the landscape of Palestinian and Israeli politics, most recently the power shift in Palestinian Authority government from the long-ruling Fatah to Hamas. (Watch how changing governments affect Mideast peace -- 1:58)

The Popular Resistance Committees includes members of several Palestinian militant groups, including Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Hamas formally took power of the Palestinian Authority government from Fatah on Wednesday. (Full story).

Explosion of unknown origin

Abu Quka was killed in Gaza City earlier Friday in an explosion of unknown origin while he was in his car, witnesses said.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it had no involvement. Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh has been instructed to investigate the circumstances of Abu Quka's death, according to sources in Haniyeh's office.

Haniyeh, the newly installed leader of the Hamas-led government, convened an emergency Cabinet session Friday night.

The IDF, meanwhile, said it launched rockets at targets in northern Gaza on Friday. There were no reports of casualties or damage.

The shelling came a day after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed four Israeli civilians in the West Bank, at the entrance to the Jewish community of Kedumim. (Full story)

The four victims were a married couple, a 20-year-old woman, and a 16-year-old, Israeli police said Friday.

Police said the bomber blew himself up inside a vehicle in which the four were traveling. An inquiry found the vehicle had picked up several hitchhikers including the bomber, who was dressed as a religious Jew.

The suicide bombing came after Tuesday's election victory for Israeli acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Kadima party, which was widely seen as a referendum on the future of Israel's borders. (Full story)

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