Gunmen in Gaza attack U.N. school sports day
Posted by jesus_rules on Tuesday, May 08, 2007
By Nidal al-Mughrabi
GAZA (Reuters) - Unidentified gunmen hurled grenades at a U.N.-run school in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, apparently angry at the participation of boys and girls in a sports event, killing one person, residents said.
Six other people, including at least one pupil and a school principal, were wounded in the attack, which local residents blamed on "Muslim extremists".
There have been a rash of attacks in Gaza in recent months -- targeting the American International School, Internet cafes, video stores and barber shops -- attributed to previously unknown Islamist groups. Analysts say some of the groups were influenced by the thinking of al Qaeda.
Hospital officials identified the man who was killed in Sunday's attack as a bodyguard of a lawmaker from President Mahmoud Abbas's secular Fatah faction who had attended the mixed sports day event.
Local residents said the gunmen arrived at the school and warned through loudspeakers against letting boys and girls participate in the sports day.
The gunmen said the event "taught children immoral values".
They also attacked and destroyed a vehicle belonging to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which runs the al-Amareya primary school in the southern Gaza town of Rafah.
John Ging, head of UNRWA operations in the Gaza Strip, had attended the sports day event but U.N. officials said he had left before the attack.
The attack came one day after a group that calls itself "Salaf" distributed a four-page statement warning Gaza schools against teaching boys and girls together, and against providing them with music and dance classes.
"Those who stand behind these festivals and events rely on personal beliefs and on Western culture that are far from the rulings of the (Muslim) religion," the statement said.
The statement singled out Ging by name, criticising school officials for including "a Christian" in events which "anger God and are immoral".
The U.N. has been considering whether to pull out its few remaining foreign employees in Gaza because of the growing security chaos. Most of the U.N.'s activities are carried out by local staff.
In March unidentified gunmen blocked a convoy carrying Ging in what appeared to be a botched kidnapping attempt near Gaza City. The gunmen fired at Ging's vehicle but no one was hurt.
Last month, unidentified militants blew up part of the American International School in Gaza. According to Palestinian security officials, at least 40 Internet cafes and shops selling mobile phones and satellite dishes have been attacked in recent months.