Soccer-Two Palestinian footballers die in Gaza conflict

GAZA, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Two prominent Palestinian soccer players were killed by Israeli forces this week in the Gaza Strip, the Palestine Football Association said on Wednesday.

In a statement posted on its website, the PFA said a former member of the national team, Ayman al-Kurd, a 28-year-old with three children, was killed two days ago by Israeli shelling.

“His martyrdom is a great loss to Palestinian football. His colleagues are in shock,” Ghassan Balawi, a former coach of the Palestinian soccer team, told Reuters in Ramallah.

The PFA also reported that Wajih Mushtahi, a member of the Palestinian Olympic soccer team, was killed this week in Gaza.

The Islamic Jihad militant group said in a statement that Mushtahi was one of its fighters and had died in combat. (Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi and Ali Sawafta, Editing by Alistair Lyon)