Key Aide to Arafat Critically Wounded

From Associated Press

A masked gunman burst into a gift shop Tuesday and critically wounded a key aide to PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, police said.

Issam Salem, 48, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s top official in Lebanon, was in critical condition and undergoing surgery to remove bullets from his head and shoulder, doctors said.

A police spokesman in Sidon, a port city 25 miles south of Beirut, said the attack came after Salem got out of his white Mercedes-Benz and entered a gift store. His two bodyguards waited in the car.


“A lone assailant, wearing a plastic mask, stormed into the shop shouting ‘Issam Salem.’ When Salem turned to face the gunman, he fired two 9-millimeter bullets into Salem’s head and shoulder and escaped,” said the spokesman, who cannot be identified under police rules.

The bodyguards chased the gunman but he disappeared in the narrow alleys leading to Sidon’s Ein el Hilwa refugee camp, the spokesman added.

“He stands a 50-50 chance of making it, but even if he does he will be suffering from a neurological defect,” said one of the surgeons at Sidon’s Hammoud hospital, Dr. Hussein Mansour. “That means possible partial paralysis.”