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Arafat adviser shot dead in Gaza -witnesses
Updated: 2004-03-02 08:54

Gunmen shot dead an adviser to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in Palestinian-ruled Gaza City on Tuesday, witnesses and medics said.

They said unknown assailants killed Khalil al-Zebin, 59, who advised Arafat on human rights and media issues and ran a Palestinian Authority-funded magazine, outside his office.

Zebin was shot several times and died shortly after arriving at Gaza's Shifa Hospital, medics said.

He was a longtime Arafat loyalist whose monthly magazine focused on the rights of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

Palestinian journalists have recently staged protests demanding that the Palestinian Authority investigate a recent series of attacks against them in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"We strongly condemn the assassination of veteran journalist Khalil al-Zebin and urge the Palestinian Authority to intervene immediately to find the perpetrators," said Tawfiq Abu Khoussa, deputy chairman of the Palestinian Journalists Union.

Palestinians are grappling with a breakdown in law and order accelerated by frequent Israeli army raids that Israel says are intended to pre-empt Palestinian militant attacks but which have also crippled Palestinian security services.

Armed gangs, often elements of militant groups fighting Israel in an uprising and sometimes linked to security organs themselves, have been behind a sharp rise in robbery, extortion, abductions and murder in the cities of Gaza and the West Bank.

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