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Egyptian officer killed in clashes with Gazans
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An Egyptian officer was killed on Sunday by unidentified Palestinian gunman from the Gaza Strip, who crossed into the Egyptian side near the Rafah border crossing, the Egyptian Nile TV reported.

The officer of the Egyptian border guards was shot twice in the stomach and died of his wounds, security sources were quoted as saying on condition of anonymity.

Two Palestinians from Gaza crossed into Egypt near the Rafah border crossing and broke into an Egyptian house and one of them opened fire at the Egyptian officer, according to the sources.

Earlier reports said that hundreds of Palestinians breached the Egyptian-Gaza border fence in several places to flee the Israeli airstrikes on the Palestinian enclave during which at least 285 Gazans have so far been killed and some 900 others wounded.

The Palestinians in Gaza began to break down the Egyptian-Gaza border fence shortly after the Israeli troops stormed the southern Gaza on Sunday afternoon to destroy the underground tunnels.

Some of the Palestinians clashed with Egyptian border guards after entering the Egyptian territory.

Witnesses said the Egyptian border guards fired tear gas to keep the Palestinians away from the broken border wall.

On Saturday, Israel started launching air strikes against Gaza from 11:30 a.m. local time (0930 GMT), hitting more than 30 targets, most of them security compounds run by the Islamic Hamas movement.

The coastal strip was under intensive Israeli air strikes for the second successive day on Sunday, which Israel said was aimed at halting nearly daily cross-border rocket attacks by Palestinian militants.

According to Hamas security sources, Israel carried out more than 50 airstrikes through Sunday, leaving several security buildings, including Gaza central prison, destroyed.

(Xinhua News Agency December 29, 2008)

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