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Palestinian Suicide Bomber Kills 3 in Israeli Bakery


A Palestinian suicide bomber has killed himself and three Israelis in the resort city, Eilat, on the Red Sea. As VOA's Jim Teeple reports from Jerusalem two Palestinian militant groups have claimed joint responsibility for the attack.

Witnesses say they saw a man in a heavy coat approach a bakery in a quiet neighborhood of Eilat. A short while later a massive explosion shook the area.

Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld says evidence collected at the site confirmed that a suicide bombing had taken place.

"We could confirm, based on the explosives on the body, that there was a connection between them and it was a suicide bombing."

Rosenfeld says the bomber crossed the Israeli border from the Egyptian Sinai. He has been identified as 21-year-old Mohammed Saksak from Gaza City.

Two Palestinian groups, Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, have claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out to get Palestinians to attack Israel instead of each other. Over the past week, Palestinian infighting between the Fatah and Hamas factions has claimed more than 30 lives.

A spokesman for Hamas, which controls the Palestinian government, praised the bombing calling it a natural response to Israel's policies. The other group involved, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, is affiliated with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement, but a spokesman for Fatah criticized the attack.

A statement from the White House condemned the attack, saying it holds Hamas accountable for not preventing it.

Israel's security cabinet met to discuss the attack. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel was weighing its response. Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip last November.

Monday's attack was the first suicide bombing ever to take place in Eilat and the first in Israel since last April, when more than 10 people were killed in a Tel Aviv bombing - also claimed by Islamic Jihad and the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

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