GAZA CITY ø PLO Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, selected to run for
Palestinian elections, has survived an assassination attempt.
Palestinian sources said Abbas came under attack during a visit to the
Gaza Strip on Sunday evening. They said two of Abbas's bodyguards were
killed and four others were injured when members of Fatah's military wing
opened fire toward Abbas and his security adviser, former Security Minister
Mohammed Dahlan, in Gaza City.
Guards rushed Abbas into a nearby tent, pushed him to the floor and
formed a cordon around him. Two of the bodyguards were struck by gunfire and
were killed. Minutes later, Abbas was driven to Palestinian Authority
headquarters in Gaza City, Middle East Newsline reported.
The sources said the shooting marked the launch of what could be a
bloody power struggle to succeed the late Yasser Arafat. Arafat has been
succeeded by a four-man committee, and on Sunday Abbas was chosen to run for
the post of PA chairman in elections scheduled for Jan. 9.
Abbas and Dahlan denied that they were the target of an attack. They
said Fatah gunmen began shooting in the air when Abbas and his delegation
arrived at the tent, erected to receive those mourning the death of Arafat.
"There was no attempt to assassinate Abu Mazen," Sufian Abu Zeideh, a
senior PA official, said. "Nobody aimed his weapon at Abu Mazen or anybody
But witnesses said Fatah gunmen aimed their weapons toward Abbas and
Dahlan. They said the gunmen arrived at the
tent chanting slogans such as "Abbas and Dahlan are agents for the
Americans" and then opened fire.
"The Fatah people fired their weapons in all directions, including
toward Abbas and Dahlan," a witness said. "They had specifically come to