TEL AVIV (Nov. 20)
The assassination of a Shiite religious leader caused shops to be shut down in south Lebanon today and threatened a new suspension of the Israel-Lebanon military talks at Nakura.
Imam Abdullah Al-Amin was gunned down last Wednesday while standing on the balcony of his home in Tawana village. His assailants, who escaped, opened fire from two directions, indicating that the assassination was a well planned operation. He died yesterday.
The Shiite leader Nabih Berri immediately blamed Israel for the killing and warned that the Nakura talks would not resume tomorrow as scheduled. Berri is the Cabinet member in charge of south Lebanon. Israel denied the charge and United Nations officials who are sponsoring the talks said the Israeli and Lebanese military teams would meet tomorrow as planned.
Reports reachig here said members of Amal, the Shiite milita, were forcing shopkeepers in south Lebanon to close today. Al-Amin died at a hospital in Nakura run by the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
The Beirut government refused on Israeli offer to fly him to the better equipped Rambam Hospital in Haifa for treatment. UNIFIL brought in doctors from the American University Hospital in Beirut but their efforts to save the Iman failed.
Meanwhile, an Israeli soldier was wounded yesterday by a grenade thrown at his patrol near a Litani River bridge in south Lebanon.