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A Druze religious leader killed by Beirut sniper

Lebanon's second-highest Druze religious leader was shot and killed at his home in the heart of Beirut Thursday, causing authorities to lengthen the nighttime curfew on the capital.

Sheikh Halim Takieddin, a judge, politician, and moderate clergyman, was killed by a single shot from a lone gunman who escaped, police said.

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The Army quickly announced it was bringing forward by three hours the nighttime curfew in Beirut to begin at 5 p.m. Thursday.

An Army statement said the move was to facilitate investigation of the sheikh's death. It said the regular curfew hours, which run from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m., would be resumed today.

The assassination came just hours after a French peacekeeping soldier was killed and another wounded in an ambush, apparently in retaliation against French air strikes last month.

Prime Minister Shafik Wazzan condemned the assassination. ''This deplorable crime . . . indicates that all values no longer exist and has been perpetrated by those who no longer fear God.''

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