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2 Poles Shot in Beirut; Tie Seen to Israel Flights

April 01, 1990|From Times Wire Services

BEIRUT — A clandestine group claimed responsibility Saturday for shooting two Poles on Friday night in Muslim West Beirut and warned Warsaw against aiding the exodus of Soviet Jews to Israel.

Budgan Serkis, 47, and his wife, Ewa, 30, were shot as they were parking their car, bearing diplomatic plates, near their home in the Hamra district, authorities said.

The previously unknown "Revolutionary Action Organization, the Arab Resistance Front--the Martyr Suleiman al Halabi Unit" group said it attempted to kill two Polish diplomats. It delivered its statement to the offices of the pro-Syrian, leftist As-Safir newspaper.

Lebanese police had said Serkis was a commercial attache at the Polish Embassy in Beirut. But a Polish Foreign Ministry spokesman said Serkis was an employee of the Polish agricultural trading organization Anixem.

Hospital sources said Serkis was hit in the face and stomach and was in stable condition Saturday after an operation. His wife was shot in the leg.

The shootings came less than a week after Poland offered to help Soviet Jews emigrate to Israel.

Many Arabs fear that the influx of Soviet Jews in Israel and the occupied territories will displace Palestinians and strengthen Israel's grip on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Polish government condemned the attack and said it is taking increased measures to protect diplomats and other overseas employees.

Poland offered to transport the Israeli-bound Soviet Jews last Sunday after Hungary's Malev airline stopped charter flights and some scheduled flights to Israel because of the threats.

Malev later resumed scheduled flights to Israel and halted them to Beirut.

Hours after the attack, Poland said its offer to transport Soviet Jews to Israel stood despite the shootings.

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