Two Palestinian gunmen, Israeli army officer killed in West Bank clash

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RAMALLAH, West Bank, Sept 14 (Reuters) – Israeli troops shot dead two Palestinian gunmen on Wednesday in a clash near the boundary with the occupied West Bank in which an army officer was also killed, a military spokesman said.

The West Bank, among territories where Palestinians seek statehood, has seen a surge of violence in recent months as Israel has intensified raids following a spate of lethal Palestinian street attacks in its cities.

Before dawn on Wednesday, the military spokesman said, troops intercepted two men spotted approaching an Israeli barrier along the West Bank boundary near Jenin, a Palestinian town that has seen near-nightly friction between the sides.

The men opened fire, killing an army officer, and were shot dead by the other troops, the military said.

The Jenin Brigade, a coalition of armed Palestinian factions, claimed the two dead gunmen as its members and confirmed they had killed an Israeli army officer.

U.S.-sponsored Palestinian statehood talks with Israel stalled in 2014. Since then, the Palestinian Authority (PA, created under interim peace accords to wield limited self-government in the West Bank, has seen its domestic credibility wane.

Israel has called on the PA to crack down on hotspots like Jenin. PA officials accuse Israel of having weakened their rule.

Writing by Dan Williams and Ali Sawafta; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan

An Israeli soldier looks on during a search operation at the area near Atof village south of Nablus city. EPA-EFE/ALAA BADARNEH

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