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Wednesday, 21 August, 2002, 12:40 GMT 13:40 UK
Loose ends in Nidal 'suicide'
Iraq security chief shows pictures of Nidal in hospital
Iraq says Nidal shot himself when confronted by police

Officials in Iraq have confirmed the death of the Palestinian guerrilla leader Abu Nidal.

They say he killed himself when security officials arrived at his home in Baghdad to arrest him for entering the country illegally.


The idea that, in such a tightly controlled state, the authorities could have been unaware of his presence is hard to credit

The Iraqi version of events is dramatic but less than convincing, and leaves several questions unanswered.

In essence officials are saying that this notorious renegade entered their country illegally and without their knowledge - that they only recently discovered his presence in Baghdad - and that when confronted, he shot and killed himself.

To spice up the story further, they say they have evidence he was in contact with an unnamed foreign country.

Repaying a debt?

The idea that, in such a tightly controlled state, the authorities could have been unaware of his presence is hard to credit.

Equally questionable is whether an ageing guerrilla leader - widely believed to be dying of leukaemia when he moved to Baghdad about four years ago - should have been of any conceivable use to a hostile power, or indeed that he should have taken the risk of establishing such links.

A more banal explanation for his presence in Baghdad is that the Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was repaying a debt to an old guerrilla leader who had been of service to the Iraqi state.

But how he died, and why, remains a mystery.

See also:

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