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Family: PA shares blame in Bulgaria assassination

Feb. 26, 2016 3:00 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 27, 2016 5:15 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The family of Omar al-Nayif on Friday said they held the Palestinian Authority responsible for his reported assassination by Israel at the Palestinian embassy’s headquarters in Bulgaria.

Ahmad al-Nayif told Ma'an: “My brother was being directly and indirectly threatened by some individuals at the embassy -- especially the ambassador -- who demanded him to leave the embassy where he was taking cover after being threatened by Mossad,” referring to Israel's overseas intelligence agency.

Ahmad demanded the Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Palestinian ambassador to Bulgaria be dismissed for not providing enough protection for al-Nayif.

The Palestinian prisoner -- who escaped in 1990 and has been wanted by Israel since -- was found dead inside the headquarters of the embassy in Bulgaria Friday morning.

Nayif, a 52-year-old man from Jenin, had been living in Bulgaria for years, but sought refuge in the Palestinian embassy after Israel demanded his extradition on Dec. 15, so he could see out a life sentence over the killing of an Israeli in Jerusalem's Old City in 1986.

Bulgarian police reportedly gave Nayif 72 hours to turn himself in but Nayif refused, considering the procedure illegal, according to the Palestinian Committee for Prisoners' Affairs.

While Palestinian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Taysir Jaradat told Ma'an embassy staff found Nayif lying in the embassy's garden covered in blood, Ahmad said he learned of reports that the embassy had been raided.

“A group of people raided the embassy and Omar’s room in order to assassinate him, when a fight erupted and they threw him out of the embassy’s balcony, killing him,” Ahmad said.

Nayif’s wife received a call from the embassy informing her that he had been assassinated, and that paramedics attempted to save him but that he died on his way to the hospital, Ahmad added.

Ahmed accused security guards present at the embassy of “collaborating” in his brother’s assassination.

The left-wing Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestinian, of which Nayif was a member, in a statement also blamed his death on Palestinian Authority officials, who met with Bulgarian counterparts on Wednesday.

The group said: "This crime took place as the highest officials of the Palestinian Authority met with the highest officials of the Bulgarian state in Ramallah, with no apparent demands made for our pursued comrade."

PFLP following Israel's attempt to extradite Nayif had called on Bulgarian authorities to reject the request, which the group feared would if accepted would "set a dangerous precedent for the prosecution and arrest of Palestinian and Arab strugglers, especially former prisoners who reside in European countries."

President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered an investigation into Nayif’s death, which he referred to as a crime.

Nayif was one of a number of prisoners that should have been released by Israel as part of the 1993 Oslo Accords, which obligated Israel to release Palestinian political prisoners held until that point.
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