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Suicide Bombings Rock Jerusalem - 2001-12-02


At least six Israelis are dead and more than 150 wounded after two suicide bombs exploded in central Jerusalem.

Suicide bombers detonated explosives in a crowded pedestrian mall in the Ben Yehuda area of central Jerusalem.

The powerful blasts shattered the windows of cars and storefronts in the area.

Police say shortly after the explosions, another blast went off in a car parked near the mall, sending a huge column of black smoke and sparks into the air.

Rescue workers rushed to the scene and witness say they saw body parts spread throughout the area.

Ben Yehuda street is a focus for Jerusalem nightlife and has been the target of Palestinian bombing attacks in the past.

Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner called the incidents a "murderous tragedy" and blamed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for failing to stop Palestinian extremists from attacking Israelis.

In a statement, the Palestinian Authority condemned the bombings, saying the attack was aimed at destroying peace efforts in the region.

The blasts came two days after a suicide bomber blew himself up in a bus in northern Israel killing three Israelis.

U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni, who is in the region trying to convince Israel and the Palestinians to observe a cease-fire, demanded that Mr. Arafat bring to justice those responsible for the latest attacks.

The retired Marine Corps general released a statement saying he condemned in the "strongest possible terms the vicious and evil terrorist attacks in Jerusalem," saying he "offered his heartfelt condolences to the families of those who have been brutally murdered in these attacks."

Since General Zinni's arrival last week, there has been an upsurge in violence by Palestinian militants Mr. Zinni says are trying to derail his mission.

General Zinni says he will not be deterred by the violence, and will stay in the area as long as it takes to secure a truce to end 14-months of Israeli-Palestinian bloodshed.

Earlier, Israeli soldiers shot and killed two Palestinians as the army tightened its closure around two cities in the West Bank.

Israeli military sources say troops re-occupied Palestinian-controlled territory around Jenin, and also surrounded the city of Nablus in response to a series of terrorist attacks.

The army says most of the Israelis killed in attacks last week were slain by militants from the Jenin area.

Palestinians call the incursions a violation of their territorial rights granted under various interim peace accords.

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