updated 5/7/2006 11:38:12 PM ET 2006-05-08T03:38:12

Hamas and Fatah gunmen clashed early Monday, leaving three Palestinians dead, security officials said, the most serious fighting between the two powerful factions since Hamas swept elections in January.

A Hamas fighter was killed first in Bani Suheila, near the city of Khan Younis, the officials said. Hamas fighters then fired an anti-tank rocket at Fatah gunmen, killing two. Fatah officials said five of their men were captured.

Hamas and Fatah gunmen have had sporadic clashes since Hamas took over the Palestinian government following an election victory in January — but Monday’s clashes were the most serious.

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