Four Killed in Fight Between Supporters and Rivals of Abu Nidal
TYRE, Lebanon (AP) _ Rival factions of the guerrilla group led by terrorist mastermind Abu Nidal battled Sunday with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, killing at least four people and wounding 15, police said.
The showdown was the bloodiest in Lebanon between the two factions since an anti-Abu Nidal mutiny within his Fatah-Revolutionary Council began three years ago.
The fighting broke out around midnight in the narrow alleyways of the Rashidiyeh refugee camp and continued until 9 a.m., when fighters loyal to Yasser Arafat’s mainstream Fatah faction of the PLO intervened.
Police and Palestinian sources said supporters and opponents of Abu Nidal from within his Fatah-Revolutionary Council fought in the narrow alleys of the shantytown, using mortars, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.
Rashidiyeh, 50 miles south of Beirut, houses 18,500 Palestinians registered by the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, in addition to a few thousand unregistered refugees.
The police sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Abu Nidal’s opponents, backed by fighters from Arafat’s Fatah, occupied a school run by the U.N. agency.
The three-story building overlooks the main position of Abu Nidal’s loyalists.
The opponents demanded that Abu Nidal’s supporters surrender or risk being dislodged by force, the sources said.
Forty men surrendered after the mediation of representatives from other PLO factions. The Fatah-Revolutionary Council is outside the Palestine Liberation Organization, which comprises nine factions.
The fighting flared up after Saturday’s assassination in Rashidiyeh of Omar Hamadeh, regional commander of the Fatah-Revolutionary Council. His bodyguard, Mohammed Meri, was wounded. His attacker is unknown.
Arafat’s Fatah and the Fatah-Revolutionary Council of Abu Nidal, whose real name is Sabri al-Banna, are also engaged in a bitter feud.
PLO officials and opponents said in 1987 that Abu Nidal had 22 close aides gunned down in Libya in the internal policy dispute.
Abu Nidal is believed to be in Libya, despite reports that Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi was seeking his ouster in order to distance himself from international terrorism.
A U.S. State Department report last year described Abu Nidal as the world’s most dangerous terrorist.
It blamed his group for 34 terrorist attacks in 20 countries since he split from the PLO in 1973. At least 900 people were killed or wounded in these attacks, the report said.