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3 Palestinians Arrested in Alleged Suicide Bomb Attempt - 2003-02-10

Israeli forces have arrested three Palestinians in the West Bank who Israel said were on their way to carry out suicide bombings.

The first man was captured near Ramallah, where security had been heightened at all entrances of the West Bank city and cars were subjected to stringent checks.

Police said he was carrying a suitcase with a 20-kilogram bomb, and was a member of Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, an organization that has carried out numerous suicide bombings that have killed hundreds of Israelis.

The Israeli army took the man into custody and safely detonated the explosives.

Israeli soldiers later arrested two other alleged would-be suicide bombers one in Nablus and the other near Jenin, in the northern West Bank.

Earlier, Israeli soldiers shot and killed Imad Mabruk, a senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. His bullet-ridden body was found on the roof of a home in the al-Ain refugee camp in Nablus.

Palestinian residents claimed Mr. Mabruk was unarmed.

He had been sought in connection with bomb-making and alleged involvement in several terrorist attacks.

Israeli military officials confirmed the killing but defended the soldiers' actions, saying Mr. Mabruk was shot while trying to escape.

Local leaders of the U.S. designated terrorist organization accused Israel of carrying out an "assassination" and vowed to avenge his death.

Israeli soldiers have been on high alert for the possibility of terrorist attacks.