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Former Palestinian security chief Moussa Arafat slain
Updated: 2005-09-07 11:55

Dozens of Palestinian gunmen stormed the home of deposed Gaza security chief Moussa Arafat before dawn Wednesday and shot him dead, witnesses and police said.

Arafat, 65, a cousin of the late leader, Yasser Arafat, was fired earlier this year by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. It was not immediately clear who the gunmen were.

At dawn Wednesday, Abbas called an emergency meeting of his security commanders and Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia.

On Tuesday, in the first fatal clash between Israeli forces and Palestinians since Israel removed its settlers from Gaza, soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian as dozens stormed an empty settlement and threw rocks at a tank.

Former Palestinian security chief Moussa Arafat slain
Mussa Arafat, pictured in a file photo, the military advisor to Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and a cousin of his late predecessor Yasser Arafat, was shot dead by unknown assailants in the Gaza Strip overnight, Palestinian security sources said. [AFP/File]
Moussa Arafat was linked to corruption charges and had many powerful enemies, and it was thought that his killing was related to internal conflicts.

The gunmen fired at his house in Gaza City and fired rocket-propelled grenades, then stormed the house, killing Arafat. His oldest son, Nimhel, who is a senior security official, was either kidnapped or escaped, police at the scene said.

The brazen killing was certain to shake Palestinian politics, just as Abbas struggles to assert control of Gaza with the Israeli pullout.

Arafat was a founder of the ruling Fatah movement and was a senior official in the Fatah Revolutionary Council, a top policy-making body. The council had been scheduled to meet later Wednesday.

An Associated Press Television News cameraman saw Moussa Arafat's body being taken from the house to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, but angry bodyguards prevented him from taking pictures.

There was no immediate comment from the Palestinian Authority. A spokesman said a statement would be issued later Wednesday.

Arafat was a target of previous assassination attempts and always traveled in a heavily guarded convoy, using an armored limousine that once transported Yasser Arafat.

Before sundown Tuesday, dozens of young Palestinians marched on Neve Dekalim, once the largest Jewish settlement in Gaza. Palestinian police tried to stop them, but for the first time, they failed.

An Israeli tank approached, and some youths threw rocks at it while others stormed into the settlement. Soldiers opened fire, killing one and wounding three others, doctors said.

The Israeli military said soldiers opened fire after 40 to 50 youths ran into the settlement and others climbed on the tank. TV footage showed youths pelting the tank with rocks, then tearing down the fence around the settlement and racing inside.

Though Israel has removed its settlers and torn down houses in the settlements, the Israeli military retains control of the settlement areas until the formal handover, expected around September 15. Synagogues and some military bases are still intact there.

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