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Settler, soldiers open fire on Palestinians

March 7, 2011 8:36 P.M. (Updated: March 9, 2011 11:10 A.M.)
NABLUS (AFP) -- Ten Palestinians and an Israeli settler were wounded on Monday during clashes in a village near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, a Palestinian official and witnesses said.

Ghassan Doughlas, an official in charge of tracking settler activity, said six Palestinians were taken to hospital and another four were on the way after being caught up in clashes with settlers in Qusra, a village 10 kilometers southeast of Nablus.

Witnesses said trouble flared when a large group of settlers began uprooting olive trees near the village. The villagers started throwing stones, prompting a settler to open fire.

"We found a lot of settlers uprooting olive trees and when they saw us they started throwing stones at the children, then a settler brought out his M-16 and started shooting at us," said local witness Raed Awdeh.

"We threw stones at them, then the army arrived and started shooting rubber bullets and tear gas bombs," he told AFP.

Medical sources said that so far they had treated eight Palestinians -- four of whom had been hit by live fire, and another four who had been injured by rubber bullets.

The other two were lightly injured by rubber bullets and were treated at the scene, they said.

A Jewish settler was also taken to hospital after being hit by a stone, settler spokeswoman Tamar Asraf told AFP, saying he had been injured by Palestinians who had approached the nearby settlement outpost of Esh Kodesh.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli army confirmed troops had opened fire on what she described as "an extremely violent riot."

"The security forces were attacked by Palestinians with rocks, and in response, they fired directly at those who were throwing rocks," she told AFP, saying troops had used live fire and directed it towards the Palestinians' lower bodies.

"Six Palestinians were injured as a result," she added, saying the incident was under investigation.

Last week, settlers cut down around 500 young olive trees near Qusra which had been planted on the site of a former settlement outpost.

Ma'an reporters and staff writers contributed to this report
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