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Family demands answers after police and alleged gunmen killed in West Bank

Exchange of gunfire continued into Friday after Palestinian security forces launch raids in search of illegal weapons
Members of the Palestinian security force, which is authorised to operate in less than a fifth of the West Bank (AFP)

The family of a man killed by Palestinian security forces on Friday morning accused authorities of summarily executing him, after clashes on Thursday night and into Friday killed four people.

The four men, two of whom were members of the Palestinian security forces, were killed on Thursday night and Friday morning after a night of shooting during raids aimed at seizing illegal weapons, Palestinian officials said.

The violence erupted on Thursday evening after officers entered Nablus's Old City, a densely populated warren of alleyways that was one of the flashpoints of the second Palestinian uprising between 2000 and 2005.

The shooting was still continuing on Friday morning, security forces spokesman Adnan al-Damiri said.

The funeral of one of the police officers killed, Mahmoud Tirayra, was held on Friday afternoon in his hometown of Bani Naim.

Nablus governor Akram Rajub said that two alleged gunmen were also killed, both of whom he said were on a police wanted list.

Local media named the two dead alleged gunmen as Khalid al-Aghbar and Ali Halawa.

Aghbar's family on Friday morning accused Palestinian security forces of "summarily executing" their relative, demanding that his body be returned to them immediately for an independent autopsy to be carried out.

In a statement released to the media, the family praised PA president Mahmoud Abbas, prime minister Rami Hamdallah and the security forces, sending condolences to the families of the officers killed in what they called the "tragic" events on Thursday and into Friday.

However, the family denied that Khalid - who was previously imprisoned in an Israeli jail - had been wanted by the Palestinian security services.

They said eyewitnesses had informed them that he was captured alive, contradicting official statements saying he was killed in an exchange of fire. 

The family demanded "the immediate formation of an independent investigatory panel to uncover the truth" about what had happened, stressing their trust in authorities to carry this out.

Under the 1993 Oslo accords with Israel, Palestinian police are only authorised to operate in 18 percent of the occupied West Bank, encompassing most of the major Palestinian towns, including Nablus.

The northern West Bank has seen a number of Palestinian police raids in recent months. The area has witnessed factional infighting within the ruling Fatah movement of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.