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Gunmen Murder French Priest on Lebanon Campus

September 24, 1987|From Reuters

SIDON, Lebanon — A French Jesuit priest was assassinated in the office of a university today by a gunman who pumped three bullets into his head using a pistol with a silencer.

Police said that 43-year-old Andre Masse died instantly and that the gunman and two henchmen walked calmly away.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Masse, director of the Sidon branch of Lebanon's Saint Joseph University, was a week away from taking up a new appointment at the main campus in Beirut.

It was the first murder of a French national in Lebanon since military attache Col. Christian Gouttierre was shot in the head outside the French Embassy in East Beirut a year ago.

Police quoted the priest's secretary, Imam Sabbah, as saying three clean-shaven men aged around 18 to 21 came to her office.

The tallest whipped out a silenced pistol hidden in a folder. Masse was standing in the doorway when the gunman fired four times, she said. Three of the bullets smashed into his skull and he collapsed, blood pouring from his head.

The three then walked calmly out of the building, leaving Masse lying in his own blood, a policeman said.

French political, military and cultural influence remains strong in Lebanon but has been increasingly challenged by supporters of resurgent Islam as well as leftist and nationalist factions engaged in Lebanon's 12-year civil war.

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