RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sharpened the war of words against his Hamas rivals yesterday, saying it was time to "bring down" the militant group's regime in the Gaza Strip.
Abbas' comments against Hamas, whose fighters defeated his Fatah faction to take control of Gaza five months ago, reflected his anger over a deadly clash in the coastal enclave earlier this week.
"We have to bring down this bunch which took over the Gaza Strip by force and which is trading on the suffering and misery of our people," Abbas said in broadcast remarks marking the 19th anniversary of the Palestinian declaration of independence. He referred to Hamas, with which he formed a short-lived joint government earlier this year, as "outlaw gangs."
Abbas previously has used harsh language to attack Hamas. But his latest remarks struck a more combative tone.
Since June, Gaza has been in Hamas' hands and the West Bank ruled by Abbas and the government he named after firing the Hamas-led Cabinet.
Monday, Hamas forces fired shots during a Fatah rally held to commemorate the third anniversary of the death of Yasser Arafat. At least seven people were killed and dozens hurt in the melee.
Abbas called the gunfire an attack by Hamas; the Islamist movement accused Fatah members of shooting first.