Policemen killed in Jerusalem attack

A female Palestinian bomber blew herself up near an Israeli military hitch-hiking post in Jerusalem on Wednesday, killing two people and wounding 15.

    An Israeli volunteer collects human remains from the scene

    Aljazeera said the woman was Zainab Abu Salim, 21, from the Askar refugee camp in Nablus.

    Police said it was the 

    first such attack in the city in seven months.

    The blast tore through the French Hill district in East

    Jerusalem, which was captured by Israel in 1967

    and annexed in a move not recognised internationally.

    Witnesses said the woman

    blew herself up as she approached a security position near

    a hitch-hiking post mostly used by soldiers. Two border police were killed.

    "She threw her head back and then there was an explosion,"

    one witness, Debbie Segal, told Army Radio. "A few seconds

    later, her body burst into flames."

    Segal said she was on her way home from work at a nearby

    hospital at the time of the attack.

    Responsibility claim

    "I stood five minutes at the hitch-hiking post. I noticed a

    pretty young Arab woman covered in a veil coming... to the

    hitch-hiking post.

    "The border policeman was in a security post nearby. He

    called her and she came to him and made a head gesture making

    believe she didn't understand him. He continued talking to her

    and she answered him."

    It is thought that Israali soldiers
    were targeted in the attack

    The woman then blew herself up.

    Ambulances rushed to the scene and police quickly cordoned off the area, which was littered with broken glass and debris.

    The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an armed group in President Yasir Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsiblity for the bombing.

    It said it was avenging Israel's recent killing of several of its members in the West Bank cities of Nablus and Jenin.

    Condemnation

    The Palestinian Authority swiftly

    condemned the bombing

    , saying it opposed all attacks against civilians.

    It condemns "all acts targeting Palestinian and Israeli

    civilians", Palestinian negotiations minister Saeb Uraiqat said.

    The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades
    claimed responsibility

    "An end to the violence can only take place with the end of the

    Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands," he added.

    Uraiqat called for US President George Bush and the Middle

    East diplomatic quartet of the United States, European Union, Russia

    and the United Nations to implement its international roadmap for

    peace.

    Meanwhile, Israeli

    Prime Minister Ariel Sharon

    vowed that Israel would strike Palestinian fighters

     with "all force"

    .

    "In many cases we prevent heavy disasters. Sometimes things

    happen like what happened today. But we intend to continue our

    struggle against terror with all force," Sharon said on Israeli

    television.

    Shock and grief

    Anticipating an Israeli raid, hundreds of residents of the Askar refugee camp have rushed to Abu Salim's home to help her family remove furniture.

    Israel routinely demolishes homes of Palestinian human bombers.

    "I don't know what's happening," said her 12-year-old brother Tariq. "I don't know where she is. She isn't home".

    Her father, Ali, recovering from surgery to open clogged arteries, collapsed and was taken to hospital after learning of his daughter's death.

    Abu Salim's mother also fainted and was rushed to a local hospital.

    Relatives remembered Abu Salim as a brown-eyed girl with a warm smile who had just passed high school graduation exams and had spoken of entering university.

    Attacks

    The attack on Wednesday was the first of its kind in Jerusalem

    since 22 February

    when a bomber killed eight people on a

    bus.

    Israeli PM Sharon has treated
    intifada with an iron fist

    Violence has surged in recent months since Israeli Prime

    Minister Ariel Sharon introduced his plan to evacuate Jewish

    settlers from the Gaza Strip and four of 120 in

    the West Bank by the end of 2005.

    Analysts say Palestinian resistance fighters want to claim victory in any Israeli pullout, but

    the army is determined to smash armed factions before leaving.

    This was at least the third attack in French Hill since the

    start of the latest

    Palestinian

    uprising against Israeli occupation in September 2000.

    Israel sees French Hill as a neighbourhood of Jerusalem but

    it is widely viewed internationally as an illegal settlement

    built on occupied land.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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