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Israel kills 2 Gaza militants

GAZA (Reuters) - Two Palestinian militants were killed by Israeli fire in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, associates of the men and Palestinian medical workers said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said troops aimed mortar and tank fire at two men after they were spotted close to the border fence in the north of the enclave. The soldiers believed they were planting explosives, she said.

One of the dead was a member of Gaza’s ruling Hamas Islamist movement and the other was from an allied group, the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), representatives of the two groups said. A third man was wounded in the incident, according to medics working at a hospital where he was being treated.

It was the first such fatal attack by Israel in Gaza in nearly a month. Two Hamas militants were also killed on September 1, but Israel denied involvement in that case. The Israeli army said the two men who died on Sunday were involved in a mortar attack on Israel on August 24 that wounded an Israeli.

Since a war in January that killed over 1,000 Palestinians in Gaza, a ceasefire has broadly held, with sporadic exceptions.

Overnight, at least one rocket was fired toward the Israeli town of Sderot from the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army said.

A radical Islamist group, which is opposed to Hamas and to the ceasefire with Israel, said it had fired a rocket overnight.

Both sides in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict were observing major religious holidays on Sunday -- the Jewish New Year and the Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr.

Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza and Alastair Macdonald in Jerusalem; Editing by Elizabeth Fullerton

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