Hamas forces armed with assault rifles and clubs beat supporters of the rival Palestinian faction Fatah as they tried to hold street prayers Friday to protest against the Islamic group’s rule in the Gaza Strip.
The Hamas forces also assaulted at least seven journalists and detained five.
Fatah supporters took to the streets in defiance of a new Hamas ban on public protest, hoping to stage a comeback after their humiliating defeat by Hamas three months ago.
Tensions have been rising in Gaza since Hamas’ bloody seizure of power in June from Fatah forces of President Mahmoud Abbas. Immediately after Hamas’ takeover, most rank-and-file Fatah supporters kept quiet for fear of retribution.
But with the Gaza economy in tatters and Hamas suffering from an international boycott, its leadership appears to be showing signs of strain while Fatah backers are slowly regaining confidence.
Despite its fundamentalist Islamic roots, Hamas this week banned public worship after Fatah supporters began holding prayer meetings that quickly turned into raucous protests against Hamas rule.
Two women found beheaded
Suspected Islamic militants beheaded two women in northwest Pakistan after accusing them of being prostitutes, police said Friday.
Villagers spotted the decapitated bodies on the outskirts of Bannu, a city in a region where extremists are waging a violent campaign to impose Taliban-style social rules, a police official said.
The two women, 28 and 30, were riding an auto rickshaw when five armed men, wearing masks, overpowered them, bundled them into a car and drove away. A note found with the bodies identified the victims as Bannu residents and accused them of “doing acts of obscenity,” a term meaning prostitution, said the official.
Extremists have bombed shops selling music and movies in Bannu and other towns in North West Frontier Province, and barbers have been warned not to shave customers’ beards.
Baby trafficking ring broken up
Police in eastern China have broken up a baby trafficking ring, arresting 47 people and rescuing 40 infants, state media said Friday.
The operation began in late May after police questioned four women on a train, each holding a baby, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing officers with the Nanjing railway police office.
One woman confessed they had bought the babies in southwest China’s Yunnan province and planned to sell them to a person in eastern China’s Shandong province.
Authorities arrested 10 suspects in the two provinces and learned that the gang had already sold 27 newborns, Xinhua reported. The gang bought the babies in Yunnan, took them to Shandong and sold them with the help of human traders.