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Suicide Bomber Targets Israeli Grocery Store - 2003-06-19

A Palestinian suicide bomber killed himself and an Israeli man, when he detonated a bomb in a small village near the northern Israeli town of Beit Shean. The attack occurred as Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas prepares for more talks aimed at persuading militant groups to accept a cease-fire.

Police say the bomber blew himself up after entering a grocery store shortly after 0600 local time in Sde Trumot - a small village just south of Beit Shean. Police say they believe the explosive device went off prematurely and that the bomber's target may have been a nearby bus stop.

The latest incident comes as Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas continues to try to get militant groups to agree to stop their attacks on Israeli civilians.

Mr. Abbas held separate talks in Gaza City Wednesday with leaders of Islamic Jihad and Hamas but did not succeed in getting them to accept a ceasefire.

Hamas officials say the group is still considering the issue and more meetings are expected later in the day. Hamas has said Israel must stop targeting militant leaders and free Palestinian prisoners before it will agree to a cease-fire.

International pressure on both the Palestinians and Israelis to implement the road map is continuing. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell was expected here on Friday but some reports said he may not come until there are more signs that both sides are moving ahead with the plan.

Meanwhile, Israel Radio reported that Israeli soldiers have begun dismantling buildings in the illegal outpost of Mitzpe Yitzhar.

The settlement, which is located just a few kilometers from the West Bank town of Nablus, is the first inhabited outpost to be scheduled for removal since the Aqaba summit that marked the launching of the so-called road map.

Settler activists have vowed not to leave and are said to be ready for a physical standoff with the troops.

The radio reported that there has been some minor pushing and shoving between the settlers and the soldiers but no major clashes.

Israel removed 10 uninhabited outposts last week.