JERUSALEM — Israeli soldiers on Wednesday shot and killed the main suspect in last week's abduction of an American aid worker.
The suspect, Mohammed Ahmed abu Nasser, was slain in an encounter with Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip, a military spokesman said.
Military sources said that Israeli troops ambushed Abu Nasser near the Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahiya. Israel Television said that Abu Nasser had commandeered a taxi and that troops opened fire when he refused to stop at a military roadblock. He was armed with a pistol and two clips of bullets, the report said.
Abu Nasser was identified as the key figure in the abduction of Chris George of the Save the Children Federation, who works in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. George was seized last Thursday at his West Bank office by at least three abductors and released 29 hours later after agreeing to take with him a pro-Palestinian letter for President Bush. He had told authorities that he recognized Abu Nasser as the leader of the abductors.
The Israeli military spokesman said Abu Nasser also carried out two recent armed attacks on Israeli soldiers. In one incident, using an ax, he assaulted the driver of a truck used for hauling tanks. A security guard at a gas station was wounded in the attack.
In the other, he reportedly fired on an army officer standing in front of the Israeli military government headquarters in the Gaza Strip. The officer was wounded.
Abu Nasser had belonged to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Marxist branch of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Palestinian sources said he was expelled from the group before George's abduction.
Palestinian observers described Abu Nasser as mentally unbalanced. He had spent several years in an Israeli prison for terrorist activities and was released in 1985 in a prisoner exchange.
The 12-page Palestinian letter addressed to Bush, reportedly signed by Abu Nasser, called on the President to meet with PLO leader Yasser Arafat.