Israeli policeman killed in West Bank shooting

Image caption, Reports suggest that the attack was an ambush

An Israeli policeman has died of injuries sustained in an attack in the West Bank.

Israeli police officials said the attack, near the southern West Bank city of Hebron, was carried out by Palestinian gunmen.

Two Israeli policeman were injured in the attack. No Palestinian group has said it was behind the shooting.

Attacks on Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank have fallen sharply in recent years.

The Israeli press reported that the attack appeared to be an ambush in which gunmen fired on a police vehicle as it travelled on road 60, north of Hebron.

Settler leaders criticised the Israeli government, saying the attack was a result of the easing of restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank.

The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem has reported that the number of manned checkpoints in the West Bank has fallen from 63 to 44 over the last year. Eighteen of these are said to be in the Hebron area.

Violence in the West Bank has fallen in recent years, although last month Jewish settlers shot dead a Palestinian 16-year-old after rocks were thrown at their car near Ramallah.

The last fatal attack on an Israeli in the West Bank was in February when a Palestinian policeman stabbed to death a soldier in the central West Bank, the Reuters news agency reported.

In March 2009, two policemen were killed in a shooting attack in the Jordan Valley.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967, settling close to 500,000 Jews in more than 100 settlements. There are about 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank.

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