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Wednesday, June 11, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Intelligence Officer Arrested In Deaths Of 2 Land Dealers

JERUSALEM - Palestinian security forces have arrested an intelligence officer sought by Israel in the deaths of two land dealers, and officials said today that more arrests were expected.

Three Arab land dealers have been killed in the past month, apparently on suspicion they sold land to Jews.

Israel says it has proof the Palestinian Authority was involved in the victims' abductions and suspects Palestinian security officials were behind the killings.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat says his government had no role in the killings and his spokesman, Nabil Abourdeneh, said today the Palestinian Authority opposes vigilante acts.

Hussein Alyan, a Palestinian intelligence officer in the West Bank town of Ramallah, was arrested late yesterday by Palestinian authorities, who gave conflicting reasons for the arrest.

One official said Alyan was suspected of corruption. But another said he was being held for involvement in the killings, which were carried out without the knowledge of his superiors. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

Another Palestinian official said he expected five or six additional arrests after authorities finished interrogating Alyan. He also spoke on condition of anonymity.

Last week, Israel issued a warrant for Alyan's arrest and said he would be taken into custody if he left the autonomous Palestinian areas.

Yesterday, Israel stripped Alyan's superior, Col. Tawfik Tirawi, of his Israeli-issued VIP card, which allowed him to enter Israel without being checked at army roadblocks.

Israeli news reports have named Tirawi as the key figure behind the killings of the land dealers, an accusation he has denied.

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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