Palestinian extremist killed in Lebanon

39-year-old shot to death in Ein el-Hilweh refugee camp; attackers flee.

October 7, 2006 11:31
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Gunmen shot a Palestinian extremist Saturday as he walked through a refugee camp in south Lebanon banging a drum to wake Muslims for their pre-dawn Ramadan meal, security officials said. Bilal Salloum, 39, a member of the Asbat al-Ansar group, died instantly after being struck by four bullets in Ein el-Hilweh camp, Palestinian officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity as they are not allowed to speak to the press. What's new on Salloum was killed while performing as a "mesaharati" - a person who uses a drum to rouse faithful Muslims for prayers and breakfast before dawn during the holy month of Ramadan, the officials said. The attackers promptly fled the scene, the officials added. Asbat al-Ansar is a small, armed group that is on the US State Department's list of terrorist organizations. Lebanese security officials, also speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed Salloum's death and said he was wanted on suspicion of taking part in violent acts. Ein el-Hilweh is notorious for assassinations and shootings among Palestinian factions vying for control. Many fugitives wanted by the Lebanese authorities are believed to hiding in the camp. The Lebanese army controls checkpoints outside the camp, but its troops do not enter. Salloum was married to three women. Ein el-Hilweh, the largest of 12 refugee camps in Lebanon, is home to about 75,000 Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

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