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Palestinian gunmen kill suspected collaborators, display bodies

HDN | 10/24/2003 12:00:00 AM |

NABLUS - Masked Palestinian gunmen killed two Palestinian men suspected of collaborating with Israel on Thursday before displaying their bodies in the central square of the Tulkarem refugee camp, witnesses and Palestinian security officials said. The

NABLUS - Masked Palestinian gunmen killed two Palestinian men suspected of collaborating with Israel on Thursday before displaying their bodies in the central square of the Tulkarem refugee camp, witnesses and Palestinian security officials said.

The two men were abducted two weeks ago with six other men in a kidnapping planned by two militant groups, the Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigade and Islamic Jihad. The men were suspected of giving away the hideout of a wanted Al Aqsa militant, Palestinian security sources said.

Al Aqsa is loosely affiliated with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction. Islamic Jihad, which receives funding from Iran, often cooperates with Al Aqsa in the northern West Bank.

A source in Al Aqsa said the men had been kidnapped and interrogated by Islamic Jihad, but that the two groups had carried out the killings together "to share the honor."

The two men reportedly confessed to betraying Sirhan Sirhan, a militant shot dead by Israeli troops in Tulkarem on Oct. 4 after a yearlong manhunt. One of the men, who had been an Islamic Jihad member, also confessed to betraying two comrades who were killed by Israeli troops.

Sirhan -- who is not related to the Robert Kennedy assassin of the same name -- was wanted by Israel for killing five people on an Israeli communal farm, including a mother and her two small children.

Israeli intelligence makes frequent use of Palestinian informants to target wanted Palestinians, and dozens of suspected collaborators have been killed by fellow Palestinians during three years of violence.

The confessions were videotaped and broadcast in the central square on Wednesday night, witnesses said. The six other suspects were released.

Just after daylight on Thursday, the two suspected collaborators were taken into an alley and shot at close range, said a witness who asked not to be identified.

The bullet-riddled bodies were then dragged to the central square and propped up for camp residents to see, witnesses said.

After about 15 minutes, family members took away the bodies before large crowds had gathered. The men were identified as Mohammed Suliman Faraj and Samer al-Oufi.

Witnesses said members of the Faraj family fired guns in the air and vowed to avenge Mohammed's death before taking the body away.

A Palestinian security official speaking on condition of anonymity said they were investigating the incident but were currently powerless to act. Palestinian officials say Israel's control of the West Bank limits their ability to maintain law and order.

"We won't let people take the law into their own hands," he said.

The Associated Press

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