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Violence Precedes Palestinian Election

SATURDAY, JAN. 20, 1996

In the final hours before the first Palestinian elections, three Muslim militants were killed Friday after firing on Israeli soldiers, Palestinian police broke up an opposition protest and voters complained of confusion about polling stations.

Despite the problems, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat hailed today’s vote as a “milestone on the way toward establishing a Palestinian state.”

A high voter turnout would give Arafat a solid mandate to continue peace negotiations with Israel.

Militant opposition groups have urged Palestinians to stay home and said they would claim victory if fewer than 50 percent of the 1,013,235 registered voters cast ballots.

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