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Swiss observer killed in West Bank

A Swiss TIPH observer is reported to have been killed in a crossfire in the West Bank

(Keystone Archive)

Two international observers - one of whom was Swiss - have been killed in an ambush near the West Bank city of Hebron.

The observers, serving in the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), were driving on a bypass road frequently used by Jewish settlers, when their car came under fire on Tuesday.

The TIPH's website reported that the two fatalities were Swiss TIPH observer Catherine Berruex and deputy head of operations Turtug Cengiz Toytunc from Turkey.

TIPH is having a condolences reception today at 10:00 AM.

A monitor who survived the incident said a Palestinian gunman had shot at the car at close range.

He told Israeli radio that the attacker was wearing a Palestinian police force uniform, and had opened fire with a Kalashnikov rifle, even though the car was clearly marked as an observer vehicle.

The Palestinian Authority blamed the attack on the Israeli army.

First foreign victims

It is the first time foreign monitors have been killed since the Palestinian uprising erupted in September 2000.

TIPH is a civil observer mission in the West Bank city of Hebron and consists of members from Switzerland, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Turkey.

The incident happened shortly after Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, had announced he would not attend the Arab League summit in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, this week.

swissinfo with agencies

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