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The Latest: Palestinian PM unharmed in Gaza bombing |

The Latest: Palestinian PM unharmed in Gaza bombing
The Latest: Palestinian PM unharmed in Gaza bombing Tue, 13 Mar 2018 12:26:28 EDT

The Latest on explosion striking Palestinian PM convoy in Gaza (all times local):

6:30 p.m.

A roadside bomb struck the convoy of the Palestinian prime minister during a rare visit to the Gaza Strip, causing no serious injuries but throwing an already troubled reconciliation process between rival factions into deeper turmoil.

Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah had just arrived from his West Bank headquarters to attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new water-treatment plant when the bomb went off Tuesday. Although there was no claim of responsibility, Palestinian officials accused Gaza militants of trying to assassinate Hamdallah. Gaza's ruling Hamas group denied involvement.

The blast took place at a time of deadlock in reconciliation efforts between Hamdallah's Fatah party and Hamas, which has controlled Gaza since ousting Fatah forces in 2007. It also cast a shadow over a special White House meeting where international donor nations were set to discuss the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza.

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4 p.m.

President Donald Trump's Mideast envoy has condemned the attack on Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah's convoy in Gaza.

In a Twitter post Tuesday, Jason Greenblatt says Hamas and other militant groups have brought Gaza "to the brink of collapse."

"Attack on PA delegation opening water treatment plant is an attack on the welfare of the people of Gaza. Wishing a speedy recovery to the injured," Greenblatt said.

Hamdallah was not harmed when the roadside bomb struck his convoy, and said it would not disrupt efforts to reconcile with Hamas, which seized Gaza from forces loyal to the Western-backed Palestinian Authority in 2007.

No one immediately claimed the attack. Hamas condemned the attack and vowed to launch an "urgent" investigation.

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3:50 p.m.

The Palestinian prime minister says a blast that struck his convoy in Gaza will not disrupt attempts to reconcile with Hamas.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah was making a rare visit to Gaza when the explosion went off Tuesday. Hamdallah was not hurt, but quickly returned to his base in the West Bank.

He insisted "this incident won't stop us from our work in Gaza and won't stop us from the reconciliation."

Hamas condemned the explosion, calling it a crime and an attempt to "hurt efforts to achieve unity and reconciliation." It promised an "urgent" investigation.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah and the Islamic militant group Hamas have been trying to reconcile since 2007, when Hamas seized control of Gaza.

The takeover left the Palestinians with two rival governments, Hamas in Gaza and the Western-backed Palestinian Authority governing autonomous enclaves in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

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12:20 p.m.

The United Nations Mideast envoy has condemned the attack on Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah's convoy in Gaza.

In a statement, Nickolay Mladenov called for a prompt investigation into what he called a "grave incident" so the perpetrators can be brought to justice.

He says that until the "legitimate" Palestinian Authority takes power in Gaza, the Hamas militant group is responsible for enabling the internationally backed government to work without fear of intimidation, harassment and violence.

Hamas seized power of Gaza in 2007, and repeated attempts to reconcile with the Palestinian Authority have failed or stalled.

Mladenov says Tuesday's blast was carried out by people trying to undermine reconciliation and "destroy the chances for peace."

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11:50 a.m.

The Hamas militant group has condemned the Gaza explosion that targeted the convoy of visiting Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.

In a statement, Hamas called Tuesday's blast a "crime" and said it was an attempt to "hurt efforts to achieve unity and reconciliation." It promised an "urgent" investigation.

Hamas has controlled Gaza since seizing it from the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority in 2007.

Hamas condemned President Mahmoud Abbas for blaming it for the blast, and Abbas' security chief, Majed Farraj, said it was "too early" to say who was responsible.

Hamdallah, who was not hurt, left Gaza and was headed back to the West Bank.

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10:55 a.m.

An explosion has struck the convoy of the Palestinian prime minister during a rare visit to Gaza, sparking fears of an assassination attempt.

Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah was unharmed Tuesday but his Palestinian Authority quickly accused Gaza militants of trying to kill him.

Three of the vehicles in his convoy were damaged, their windows blown out. One had signs of blood on the door.

Hamdallah, who operated in the West Bank, arrived in Hamas-run Gaza to inaugurate a long-awaited sewage plant project.

The World Bank, European Union and other European governments have paid nearly $75 million in funding. Hamas' takeover of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in 2007 and the ensuing Israeli-Egyptian blockade, power shortages and conflicts delayed the opening of the project for four years.

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