Fatah claims dual suicide bombing attacks in Tel Aviv, at least 21 killed
At least 21 people were killed and some 100 others were injured in a double suicide bombing around 18:30 P.M. (16:30GMT) Sunday at the Old Central Bus Station in south Tel Aviv.
The two suicide bombers blew themselves up within less than a minute of one another. The blasts took place on two parallel streets in a district of the city with a large population of expatriate workers.
Foreign workers were thought to be among the victims of the attacks.
There were reports of conflicting claims of responsibility for the attack from the Islamic Jihad group and the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, the military arm of Fatah.
The Qatar-based Al Jazeera television station showed a statement signed by Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and said it named the attackers as Buraq Abdel Rahman Halfa and Saber al-Nouri from Nablus.
The statement said the men had carried out the blasts to avenge the destruction of Palestinian homes, the station added.
U.S. President Bush was informed about the bombing by Condoleezza Rice, his national security adviser, as he headed home to Washington from Texas aboard Air Force One, said White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan.
"He condemns this in the strongest possible terms, " Buchan said. "There are those who want to derail the peace process, but the president will not be deterred. Innocent people have a right to live in safety."
An Israeli spokesman said the bombings were an attempt by "terrorist organisations" to wreak havoc before Israel's January 28 general elections and an anticipated US-led attack on Iraq. "The terrorist organisations are trying to create havoc in Israel before our elections and a possible US military action in Iraq," Avi Pazner said.
"This is a particularly horrendous attack as it is a double bombing coming in a very crowded place at a peak time of day. Therefore there are many victims."
Ariel Sharon summoned his defence and foreign ministers to mull a response to the latest attack. US Secretary of State Colin Powell called Sharon to express his regrets and condolences for the attacks in Tel Aviv, media reports said.
For its part, the Palestinian Authority condemned the attacks, saying in a statement from Gaza City that it would pursue "with firmness" those who were behind them.
The statement also called on the Israeli government not to retaliate, saying the Palestinian leadership "forcefully rejects the logic of vengeance that some use to justify such operations." (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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