Palestinian gunmen assassinate ex-security chief

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Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Map of the Gaza Strip from The World Factbook.

Former Palestinian security chief Moussa Arafat, cousin of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, was assassinated at his home in the Gaza Strip after a half-hour shootout between a number of militants and Arafat's bodyguards. The force, estimated to be up to a hundred men, overpowered Arafat's numerous bodyguards, using assault rifles and grenades, before directly assaulting the house. They dragged Arafat into the street, while still in his pajamas, where he was shot. He was declared dead on arrival to hospital.

The Popular Resistance Committees, or PRC, claimed responsibility for the attack, as well as the kidnapping of Moussa Arafat's son Manhal during the fighting. Manhal Arafat is a senior security official who has been described as one of his father's closest aides. The PRC explained the killing of Arafat as punishment for corruption after normal Palestinian security forces would not take action, describing it as "executing the will of God".

While holding no official position, Arafat had been retained as a military advisor to current President of the PNA Mahmoud Abbas, after being removed from his position as security chief. Palestinian officials have condemned the attack, describing it as an attack on the authority of the government.

There is no indication that this incident will affect the withdrawal of Israeli settlers from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank, scheduled to be completed in the next few weeks.