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Former Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader dies after battle with illness

BEIRUT (Reuters) - A former leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group Ramadan Shallah has died after battling illness, al-Manar TV reported on Saturday.

Shallah, 62, served as secretary general of the Iran-backed group from 1995 to 2018.

Al-Manar did not specify the exact nature of the illness.

Labelled a terrorist organisation by the United States, European Union and others, the group has waged attacks on Israel and aims to establish an Islamic Palestinian state.

“By losing Shallah we lost a great national man,” said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a statement published by the Palestinian official news agency WAFA.

Shallah was born in Gaza in 1958 and studied in Egypt before earning a Ph.D in economics in the United Kingdom.

He was elected head of Palestinian Islamic Jihad after the killing of the group’s former chief, Fathi Shiqaqi, in 1995.

Rporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Writing by Eric Knecht; Editing by Chris Reese

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