PARIS -- The Palestine Liberation Organization's head of European security was killed early Monday in front of a Paris hotel, 1 years after his former chief was assassinated in Tunis, PLO sources said.
Atef Bseiso, the PLO's official in charge of the security of its members in Europe, was shot about 1 a.m. in front of the Hotel Meridien Montparnasse where he was staying, probably under an alias, the sources said.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack and no suspects were in custody.
'It is now up to the French police to carry out the inquest, but we do not exclude that this assassination was the work of the Israelis,' said a PLO source who requested anonymity.
French radio quoted PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat as accusing Mossad, the Israeli secret police, of being behind the killing.
In Jerusalem, Ehud Gol, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, denied Israeli government involvement in the killing. 'All I can tell you is it's completely ridiculous and does not even merit a response,' he said.
An anonymous caller phoned the United Press International bureau in Paris late Monday afternoon, claiming responsibility for the assassination on behalf of the Kahane Chai organisation, a small but vehemently anti-Arab political group based in Jerusalem.
The man said the killing was to avenge the assassination in New York two years ago of Rabbi Meir Kahane, the American-born founder of the anti-Arab Kach Party.
'All PLO leaders will be murdered and butchered,' the caller said, adding the Bseiso murder was meant as a signal to Israeli voters not to support the left-wing Labor Party in upcoming elections.
Bseiso, in his 40s, had worked under Abu Iyad, the PLO's No. 2 leader who was killed in Tunis along with two other PLO leaders on Jan. 14, 1991.
Bseiso was in Paris to discuss with police the security of PLO members living in France. He was with friends returning from a dinner when he was shot by a gun equipped with a silencer, the PLO sources said.
PLO officials said they planned to return the body to Tunisia Monday.
Bseiso was the sixth PLO member to be killed in France in the last 20 years.
In December 1972, Mahmoud Hamchari, then the PLO representative in Paris, was killed by a remote-control bomb planted in the telephone of his Paris apartment. Basil Alkoubaissi, a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine faction of the PLO, was shot dead in the French capital in April 1973.
The former chief PLO leader in France, Ezzedine Kalak, and one of his colleagues were killed in August 1978 in the Paris offices of the PLO. In July 1979, Zouheir Mohsen, head of the PLO military department, was shot dead in Cannes in the south of France.
The deputy director of the PLO in France, Fadl Dani, was killed in Paris in July 1982 by a bomb planted in his car.
The last assassination of PLO leaders was the 1991 triple killing in Tunisia of Iyad, Bseiso's former chief, and two other central Palestinian leaders, Abu al-Hol and Abu Mohammed al-Oumari.