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British-born Belgian Teacher Killed in Beirut

December 12, 1988

BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) _ Gunmen in a speeding car shot to death a British-born Belgian teacher as he walked through Moslem west Beirut on Monday, police said.

They said no motive was apparent for the assassination of Arthur van Nieuwerburgh, 65, an English teacher at west Beirut’s Rashideen School of Languages and the Moslem-controlled Makassed Cultural Center.

His 17-year-old son, Christian, lifted a blood-stained towel covering his father’s face, sobbed, and turned away.

″I am very shocked,″ he said later. Christian, who has two brothers and two sisters living outside Lebanon, said his father had received no death threats.

″We are astonished. We don’t believe it is directed at Belgians,″ said Belgian charge d’affaires Guebert Bioul.

Bioul said Nieuwerburgh was born in Britain to a British mother and Belgian father, and the British Embassy confirmed the victim carried passports of both countries.

Nieuwerburgh’s Japanese wife, restaurateur Suyun Tsuchida, was abroad but expected to return Tuesday, Bioul said.

The Belgian was the fifth Western educator to be assassinated in west Beirut in the last five years and the first since Syrian troops started policing the city in February 1987.

Police said Nieuwerburgh was walking from school to his Manara district home when he was shot by assassins firing silencer-equipped pistols from a speeding car.

″Four bullets pierced his head. Death was instantaneous,″ said a police spokesman, who cannot be named under standing regulations.

Witnesses told police they saw three gunmen in the orange Volvo car the assassins used to escape. The vehicle had no license plates.

″He was such a nice man, such a good teacher,″ sobbed one of his students, who refused to give her name.

Mrs. Nieuwerburgh’s business partner, Rafi Boyadjian, said the teacher had lived in Beirut since 1968, working first as an interpreter then switching to teaching in 1975. He spoke Japanese, French, English and Arabic.

Friends said Nieuwerburgh tried to set up a memorial fund for two British teachers kidnapped and murdered in Lebanon in 1986. They were Philip Padfield, 40, who was director of the privately owned Rashideen School, and Leigh Douglas, 34, a political science professor at the American University of Beirut.

Sixteen kidnapped foreigners are believed held in Lebanon: nine Americans, three Britons, an Irishman, an Italian, a Belgian and a Swiss.

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