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Palestinians Detain Faction Leader

January 15, 2002

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) _ Palestinian police have detained the leader of a faction that claimed responsibility for the assassination of an Israeli cabinet minister, Palestinian security sources said.

Officials from the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine confirmed that Ahmed Saadat has been detained.

The PFLP claimed responsibility for the October assassination of Israeli cabinet minister Rehavam Zeevi and Israel has said it would not lift its travel restrictions on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat until those responsible for his death were in detention.

There was no immediate comment from Israel.

The move appeared to be an attempt by the Palestinian Authority to salvage a cease-fire that has become extremely tenuous and stop tensions from spiraling out of control.

Earlier Tuesday, Palestinian gunmen killed two Israelis in the West Bank. The slayings follow the death of a Palestinian militia leader who was killed in a bombing blamed on Israel.

Saadat’s deputy, Abdel Rahim Mallouh, said Saadat was detained during a meeting with an official of the Palestinian Authority.

``This is a political action, which has very dangerous political consequences,″ Mallouh said.

``We consider this a response that they have accepted all American pressure and Israeli demands,″ he said.

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