Spanish activist says up to 20 dead in Gaza raid

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The Israeli raid on a Gaza aid flotilla killed up to 20 people, a Spaniard who was on one of the attacked boats said Thursday.

Israel has said nine people died in Monday's attack.

"The official figures speak of nine deaths but the figures that people like us who were there can furnish from what we saw ... is 16 to 20 dead," Manuel Tapial, one of the three Spaniards in the flotilla, told Cadena Ser radio.

He said Israeli soldiers "began killing as soon as they embarked," adding that the first Israeli soldier was attacked by those aboard the boat as soon as he descended from a helicopter.

Immediately "there were two or three deaths," as the Israelis fired, said Tapial, a member of the Cultura, Paz y Solidaridad group. They also used "deafening bombs."

All the dead in Monday's incident were on a Turkish ferry which led six ships trying to get aid to the besieged Palestinian enclave.

Israel has said the commandos opened fire after they came under attack. Their officials say 682 people from 42 countries were on the six ships.

© 2010 AFP

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