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Arafat is dead, say Palestinians
Hospital denies report

Paris, November 9
Palestinian President Yasser Arafat is dead, senior Palestinian political sources said on Tuesday, but this was denied by the hospital where he is being treated. At least three sources close to Arafat said he had died but asked not to be identified.

A spokesman for French medical services said Arafat was still alive at about 2.30 p.m. (GMT). Two senior Palestinian officials also denied Arafat was dead.

“He is dead,” a senior political source close to Arafat told Reuters in Paris, where the 75-year-old leader has been lying in a coma at a French military hospital.

Asked to confirm Arafat’s death, another official close to the President said: “Yes, he is dead. There will be an announcement soon.”

A third senior Palestinian political source said: “He is dead. It is possible they will delay the announcement. “He died after bleeding in the brain began last night. His bodyguards started hugging and kissing and telling each other to be strong,” this source said.

None of the sources gave any details of the cause of death. Officials in the West Bank said they had not been informed that Arafat was dead. One of Arafat’s aides, Saeb Erekat, denied the President was dead, saying: “This is not true.” Palestinian Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath said no decision had been taken to take Arafat off life support, telling CNN: “There is no sign of ... death of any of his vital parts”.

Arafat had been at the hospital having treatment since October 29, when he was airlifted from the West Bank where he had been kept under effective confinement by the Israeli army for more than two and a half years.

Palestinian officials had said Arafat was suffering from liver failure and the lower part of his body was not functioning. He had been in a coma and his condition worsened overnight, a hospital spokesman said earlier on Tuesday.

French doctors kept a tight lid on details of Arafat’s condition at the behest of his wife, Suha, who engaged in a war of words with senior Palestinians officials over her virtual monopoly on information from his hospital bedside. But on Tuesday, as the officials arrived in Paris to check on Arafat despite his wife’s objections, doctors said he had slipped deeper into a coma.

The delegation including Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie, Shaath and Palestine Liberation Organisation Secretary General Mahmoud Abbas arrived at the hospital after France hinted it was losing patience with the visit dispute.

The hospital had ruled out leukaemia but had not given any diagnosis of Arafat’s illness. Palestinian officials said he had suffered from liver failure. — Reuters

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