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Israeli, Palestinian Security Forces Arrest Suspects in Tel Aviv Bombing

  • Larry James

Israeli and Palestinian forces have arrested several men suspected of involvement in the suicide bombing of a Tel Aviv nightclub late Friday night that killed four Israelis, injured dozens more and endangered Middle East peace efforts.

Palestinian security officials, acting on orders from President Mahmoud Abbas, say they arrested two men in the West Bank town of Tulkarem. They say more arrests are expected.

Earlier, Israeli security officials say they identified the bomber and arrested two of his brothers and at least four neighbors in a raid Saturday in the village of Deir al-Ghusun, near Tulkarem.

Israelis had begun to feel safer again during the relative calm of the past several weeks. That sense of security was buoyed earlier this month when President Abbas and Israeli Prime Minster Ariel Sharon declared an end to violence, and vowed to seek peace.

But that calm was shattered late Friday, when 21-year-old university student Abdullah Badran walked up to a popular sea-front nightclub in Tel Aviv, and detonated an explosive belt.

The militant groups Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, all denied they had anything to do with the attack. Some Palestinian officials say the bombing was the work of Hezbollah, but the Lebanon-based militant group denies it was involved.

Mr. Abbas convened a special meeting of his security chiefs Saturday.

He told reporters in Ramallah afterward that those responsible would be caught and brought to justice. He also said the attack was an attempt by what he termed "third party" outsiders, who want to sabotage new peace efforts.

Israeli officials said the Palestinian leader's efforts to coax militant groups to end the violence are not enough. They say he must move quickly to disarm and dismantle what they call the terrorist infrastructure.