updated 12/22/2005 4:13:50 AM ET 2005-12-22T09:13:50

Israeli troops shot and killed three Palestinian militants as they tried to flee a building in the West Bank town of Nablus on Thursday, including the local leader of a small radical faction, witnesses and the military said.

Soldiers entered the town in pursuit of wanted men, and opened fire on a four-story building where militants had holed up, the military said. One wanted man and two other militants were shot as they tried to escape, it added.

Witnesses identified one of the dead men as Bashar Khanani, the Nablus leader of the small Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Also killed were Anas Al-Sheikh, another member of the group, and Ahmed Jiyousi of the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, a militant faction linked to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ ruling Fatah party.

Troops continued to ring the building to flush out additional wanted men, the military said. Two bulldozers were parked at the building’s entrance.

The PFLP threatened revenge. “Israel will pay the price for this crime,” said Kaed Al Ghoul, a senior PFLP leader.

Troops arrested 14 other wanted men in other operations in the West Bank overnight, the military said.

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