BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraq confirmed the death of feared terrorist leader Abu Nidal Tuesday, saying the Palestinian had committed suicide.
"Yes, I confirm his suicide and an official will give you full details on Wednesday," Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz told reporters.
On Monday, two senior Palestinian officials said Abu Nidal -- who had targeted Israelis, Palestine Liberation Organization figures and Arab officials for associating with Israel -- had been found dead of gunshot wounds three days earlier in his Baghdad house.
The Palestinian officials suggested Abu Nidal had committed suicide, but did not explain how he could have shot himself several times. His death raised suspicions that he may have been assassinated by his Iraqi patrons or Palestinian enemies.
Baghdad's confirmation of Abu Nidal's death came amid claims he recently held talks with Saudi and Kuwaiti intelligence agents and that plans for an American attack on Iraq were found in his Baghdad apartment.
The claims, made Tuesday by a senior Palestinian official in the West Bank city of Ramallah, were quickly rejected by Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
But these reports and the murky circumstances surrounding Abu Nidal's death fueled speculation concerning his final days.
The Palestinian official said Iraqi intelligence agents had been following Abu Nidal to check on his alleged dealings with the gulf states.
He said the agents arrested three of Abu Nidal's men early last week before raiding his Baghdad house late Wednesday.
The raid sparked clashes between the agents and Abu Nidal's guards, two of whom were injured, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Abu Nidal ran into another room where he committed suicide, the Palestinian official said.
The Iraqi agents later found classified documents concerning an American attack on Iraq in Abu Nidal's house, the official said without elaborating. Agents arrested three more of Abu Nidal's men, since releasing two.
"Kuwait has never had anything to do with (Abu Nidal)," Khaled al-Jarrah, the undersecretary of the Kuwaiti Foreign Ministry, told the AP in Kuwait. "We find such reports surprising. They are absolutely baseless."
A Saudi official in Riyadh, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Saudi Arabia had never contacted Abu Nidal, whose real name was Sabri al-Banna.
Iraqi officials have not commented on Abu Nidal's alleged links to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
In London, the Iraqi National Accord released a statement saying it had learned Saddam had ordered his intelligence apparatus to "finish ... Abu Nidal because he holds vital information."
The Accord, which was involved in an unsuccessful 1996 coup attempt against the Iraqi president, did not elaborate.
Abu Nidal was widely believed to have been living in Baghdad since sometime in 1999, although the Iraqi government never acknowledged this.
The radical faction that Abu Nidal formed -- which went by the name Fatah-Revolutionary Council -- killed at least 275 people and wounded hundreds more in dozens of attacks on American airliners, airports, sidewalk cafes and synagogues. He was also regarded as a gun for hire, offering his violent services during the past 30 years to various governments.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer called Abu Nidal "one of the most craven and despicable terrorists in the world" and blamed him for at least 900 deaths in 20 countries.
"The fact that only Iraq would give safe haven to Abu Nidal demonstrates the Iraqi regime's complicity with global terror," Fleischer said. "He will not be missed."