Israeli forces kill suspected Palestinian assailants who opened fire in W.Bank – police

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Near Bethlehem (Reuters) – Three suspected Palestinian assailants opened fire at a checkpoint on a road between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Bethlehem on Wednesday, wounding six security force members before the assailants were shot dead, Israeli police said.

Israeli police chief Yaakov Shabtai said it appeared the suspects had planned a much bigger attack.

The suspects arrived in a vehicle from the direction of Bethlehem, Shabtai told reporters at the scene, and opened fire when the Israeli forces there began questioning them. They were killed when the Israeli forces shot back, he said.

After the gunfight, police said they found two automatic rifles, two handguns, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, 10 fully loaded magazines and two axes on the suspects and in their vehicle.

There was no immediate comment from Palestinian officials. Footage on social media, shot from inside a bus, showed a man in uniform running and falling as gun shots ring out at the checkpoint in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

One of the people hurt by the gunmen was critically wounded, the ambulance service said, without identifying the person.

Tensions in the region have flared since a deadly attack by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in southern Israel on Oct. 7, in which some 1,200 people were killed and around 240 taken hostage, including children, according to Israeli tallies.

In response, Israel launched an air, ground and sea offensive in the Palestinian Gaza Strip, killing more than 11,500 people, around 40% of them children, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in the Hamas-run enclave.

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