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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gunmen Seize Elections Offices in Gaza

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Dozens of masked Palestinian gunmen took over election offices in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, exchanging fire with Palestinian police and demanding spaces on a list for Jan. 25 parliamentary elections.

The clashes came hours before a Wednesday afternoon deadline for submitting the list and as Fatah's two main factions announced an end to an internal rift that had threatened to bolster the electoral prospects of the militant Hamas.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas praised the party's decision to unify and urged all Palestinians to come together.

In Gaza City on Wednesday, more than 60 gunmen stormed the main election office, exchanging fire with some 500 security forces who rushed to the scene. In Khan Younis and Deir el-Balah, gunmen made it into the buildings. In Rafah, gunmen surrounded the elections office, but Palestinian police prevented them from entering. All the standoffs ended within hours, with the gunmen leaving the scene.

 Three British citizens were kidnapped as they entered the Gaza Strip from Egypt on Wednesday, witnesses and security officials said.