Gaza: Hamas, Fatah exchange accusations and fire
The office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday accused Hamas of plotting a coup and pushing the Palestinian territories to the brink of a civil war. "All information and facts indicate that some political and military leaders of Hamas are plotting a coup against legitimate institutions... in a belief that they can control the Gaza Strip through force," Abbas' office said in a statement.
Hamas' actions were "pushing the (Palestinian) territories towards the edge of a civil war," it said, adding that Abbas called all parties to implement an immediate ceasefire and hold serious dialogues.
On his part, an aide to Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas accused "enemies" of trying to topple the unity government he formed in March with members of the rival Fatah faction.
"Certain parties, collaborating with parties hostile to our people, have tried to bring down the government of national unity by force," the official said, according to Reuters.
On the ground, Hamas fighters stormed a Fatah security headquarters in Gaza City Tuesday afternoon, minutes after the movement's deadline for Fatah to quit key facilities expired.
An announcement on a Hamas radio station had given Fatah until 2 p.m. (1100 GMT) to pull security men out of the military intelligence, presidential guard, national security and preventive security facilities. After the deadline passed, witnesses said gunmen from Hamas' armed wing attacked a large security compound of Fatah's national security forces in Gaza City.
Heavy gunfire and blasts sounded in the area.