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Sharon Freezes All Contact with Palestinians Following Militant Attack

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has ordered his government to cut all contact with the Palestinian Authority after a militant attack late Thursday killed six Israeli civilians.

Mr. Sharon's office said there would be no contact until newly elected Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reins in the militants and halts attacks. All border crossings with Gaza were also closed.

Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat called on Mr. Sharon to reconsider his decision, saying the best way to restart the peace process is to resume dialogue.

Earlier Friday, Mr. Abbas, who is to be sworn-in Saturday, condemned both the militant attack, as well as deadly Israeli raids in the occupied territories, saying they do not benefit the peace process.

The militant groups Hamas, the Popular Resistance Committee and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades all claimed responsibility for Thursday's attack on the Karni crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.