GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – Militants ambushed a car carrying the Palestinian chief of police and held him for several hours Friday, deepening the sense of chaos enveloping the Gaza Strip (search) ahead of a planned withdrawal by Israel.
Later Friday, another senior Palestinian security official was taken from his car by disgruntled Palestinian police officers as he returned to Gaza City from the town of Khan Yunis, security officials said.
Police Chief Ghazi Jabali (search) was abducted by militants who exchanged gunfire with his bodyguards on the highway three miles south of Gaza City. Two bodyguards were wounded.
Officials of Yasser Arafat's (search) Palestinian Authority (search) and his ruling Fatah (search) party who were involved in the negotiations said they had secured his release. No details of the agreement were known.
People gathered outside the Bureij Refugee Camp where Jabali was originally reported to have been taken. He was released in a rural area near the refugee camp and driven in a convoy of Palestinian security forces and Fatah officials toward Gaza City.
The officials said the abduction was related to an internal feud between Jabali and the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committee (search), which was pressing for more jobs in the police force for its members.
As head of the police forces, Jabali has been identified as Arafat's "enforcer," known for cracking down on dissenters.
Jabali has made many enemies among Palestinians who see him as corrupt, but he's earned a reputation for tough leadership.
The resistance committee is a grouping of independent fighters who left established militant groups or security forces. It has no clear political agenda or ideology.
Col. Khaled Abu Aloula, director of military coordination in the southern part of Gaza was abducted less than six hours later.
Palestinian security officials said the kidnappers were Palestinian policemen who had recently been fired from their jobs. The officials said that earlier in the day Aloula had refused a request to help reinstate them.
The abductions added to the problems of the Palestinian Authority, which has been undermined by Israeli attacks on the police and other arms of its power base, while the influence of militant organizations has grown.
The chaotic competition among rival militants and official security forces increased following Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's (search) decision to pull Israeli settlers and armed forces out of Gaza, captured in the 1967 Mideast war, by the end of next year.
Jabali has been the target of several attacks this year. He escaped harm in April when militants planted a bomb at the door of his home.
Earlier, men loyal to Mohammed Dahlan (search), the former Palestinian security chief, burst into Jabali's office and assaulted him.
In February, a gunfight between Jabali's officers and Dahlan loyalists erupted in Jabali's headquarters in Gaza City. One policeman was killed and 10 other people were wounded.