Two Israeli soldiers and one Palestinian killed in West Bank violence
Two Israeli soldiers and one Palestinian were killed today in an attack near the West Bank town of Hebron.
An Israeli party spokesman said the two soldiers were off-duty when they were attacked by gunmen.
The two soldiers were killed, but managed to fire back before they died, killing one of the Palestinians and seriously injuring the other.
It was the first fatal attack on Israelis since Israel and the Palestinians formally relaunched peace talks last month and it prompted settler leaders to urge Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to shelve a proposal to ease the release of Palestinian prisoners.
An army spokeswoman said the two Israelis were hiking in the area when they were attacked by a group of armed Palestinians and they returned fire with assault rifles they were each carrying. A woman companion who was with them fled and escaped unharmed, the army said.
No Palestinian group immediately claimed responsibility for the shooting, just north of Hebron, where about 500 Jewish settlers live in heavily guarded enclaves among some 160,000 Palestinians and clashes between the two sides are frequent.
The ambush came hours after troops killed a bodyguard for the Palestinians' chief negotiator in the West Bank town of Ramallah but there was no immediate indication that the events were connected.