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Senior Palestinian Militant Killed in Hebron


A senior official of the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad was killed by Israeli forces in a raid on the West Bank town of Hebron Thursday morning.

A statement by Islamic Jihad said that Mohammed Sidr, it's leader in Hebron, had been killed by Israeli soldiers. It vowed to avenge his death and said Israel would pay a heavy price for the killing.

According to witnesses, the incident began when someone hiding in a building threw a hand grenade at the Israeli troops. The anti-tank missile the soldiers fired in response sparked a major explosion which destroyed much of the building where the militant was hiding. Bulldozers then moved in to knock down what remained of the structure.

A man suspected of harboring the militant was arrested.

Mohammed Sidr was one of the most senior militants on the Israeli wanted list. He is suspected of having been behind a number of attacks on Israelis, including an ambush in Hebron last November in which 12 Israeli soldiers and security guards were killed. He was also thought to have organized an attack a month later on the Jewish settlement of Otniel in which four settlers were killed.

Also on Thursday, Israeli troops in Nablus destroyed the family home of the suicide bomber who blew himself up near the Jewish settlement of Ariel on Tuesday killing one Israeli and wounding two others.

The family home of the man who carried out Tuesday's other suicide attack in Rosh Ha'Ayin was destroyed Wednesday. One Israeli died and nine were wounded in that incident.

The Palestinian leadership condemned Tuesday's suicide bombings, but Israel is demanding they do more to fight terrorism.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Wednesday that he suspects Yasser Arafat was involved in Tuesday's suicide bombings and he also accused him of blocking progress toward peace.

Palestinian legislator Saeb Erekat denied the accusation calling it "ridiculous and nonsensical."

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon also accused Mr. Arafat of trying to undermine Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who was appointed in April under heavy U.S. and Israeli pressure to find an alternative to Mr. Arafat.

In an interview Thursday with the French newspaper Le Figaro, Mr. Sharon urged Prime Minister Abbas to block Yasser Arafat's control of Palestinian security forces.

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