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Pro-Arafat Guerrilla Leader Gunned Down; Second Such Shooting in 5 Days

September 01, 1985|Associated Press

BEIRUT — A masked man with a silencer-equipped pistol killed a senior Palestinian guerrilla leader in the southern Lebanese port of Sidon, police said Saturday.

It was the second killing in five days of a prominent Palestine Liberation Organization member in southern Lebanon.

In Sidon's Ein el Hilwa refugee camp, the gunman killed Mustafa Kassem Khalifah, 55, at his home Friday night, his family and police said. He was buried Saturday.

Khalifah was loyal to Yasser Arafat, chairman of the PLO, police said. His death came four days after another Arafat loyalist, Mohammed Shikhani, was killed. Four other Arafat supporters were killed in July.

No one claimed responsibility for Khalifah's killing, which was seen as an outgrowth of factional feuding between Arafat's supporters and Syrian-backed PLO dissidents. PLO faction leaders met Saturday in an attempt to ward off further Palestinian infighting.

A statement issued by Arafat's mainstream Fatah group said Khalifah was assassinated by "one of the agents of Americans and Zionists in . . . a plot aiming at creating conflict" among Palestinian factions.

Syria, once Arafat's ally, now bitterly opposes his efforts with Jordan's King Hussein to reach a settlement with Israel. Syria supports most of the dissident PLO factions opposed to Arafat.

Elsewhere in the south, at Tyre, fighting broke out Saturday between the Amal militia and gunmen of the radical Hezbollah, or Party of God, who are vying for dominance of Lebanon's 1-million-strong Shia Muslim community.

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