Al-Qaida Reported Gaining Foothold in Yehudah, Shomron

RAMALLAH (Reuters) -

An al- Qaida-linked group said three terrorists in the Palestinian Authority killed by Israeli forces last week were its members and that their presence there showed that the Islamist network had taken root in the area.

Al-Qaida has struggled to build up significant support in Yehudah and Shomron, analysts say, and the Palestinian Authority, which administers the area, last week denied an Israeli report the men were linked to the organization.

Such groups have some grassroots support in the other Palestinian territory of Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas.

Israeli officials had said the three Palestinians killed on Tuesday belonged to an al-Qaida-linked cell plotting attacks.

They said the men were shot after opening fire at Israeli troops who tried to arrest them.

On Sunday, PA security forces spokesman Adnan Damiri said he had no information about the presence of al-Qaida-linked groups in areas under their control but that Palestinian investigators were looking into Tuesday’s incident.