Source AP ©

Number of Palestinians killed by internal violence rises according to report

The number of Palestinians killed by internal violence doubled in 2006 from the year before and is still rising, according to report.

The number of Palestinians killed by fellow Palestinians rose to 345 last year from 176 the year before, according to the report from the Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens' Rights.

Through the first five months of this year, the figure which includes both gunmen and civilians had already reached 271, said Mamdouh al-Aker, head of the group.

He blamed the increase on rising conflict between the Islamic Hamas and Abbas' more moderate Fatah. The two set up a coalition government in March to try to put a stop to months of street fighting that took heavy casualties. On Tuesday Abbas warned that internal violence posed a serious threat to his people.

"I told the president that there is no political will to fight chaos," al-Aker said, charging that the 80,000 members of the Palestinian security forces "are incapable of protecting the homeland and its citizens." Some of the security officers have been involved in the infighting.

Among last year's Palestinian victims, 106 died in clan violence and 100 were killed by infighting and faulty weapons use, including 40 children, said Lamis Alami, director of the commission.

The commission, based in Ramallah, was established in 1993 by decree from the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat.

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