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Suicide Bomber in Israel Wounds at Least 15


A suicide bomber in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv blew himself up Thursday, wounding at least 16 people and killing himself. The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack.

Witnesses say a man with a backpack blew himself up inside a Tel Aviv restaurant near the city's old bus station, in one of the city's most crowded neighborhoods.

Thursday's bombing was the first to take place in Israel since Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was incapacitated by a massive stroke and cerebral hemorrhage earlier this month. The attack comes just a week before Palestinian legislative elections. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack on Thursday, saying it was meant to sabotage the elections.

Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry, told reporters the Palestinian Authority must do more to control armed militants in territory it controls.

"The sad fact is that you have armed groups out there like Islamic Jihad that appears to have taken credit for this attack," he said. "[These] groups that are armed, that want to destroy peace and want to disrupt next week's Palestinian elections... It is so important that the Palestinian Authority act decisively to take the guns away from these killers."

In Washington, White House spokesman Scott McClellan also called on the Palestinian Authority to "do everything it can to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure."

Thursday's attack was the first to occur in Israel since December 5, when five people were killed in an attack in the city of Netanya, just north of Tel Aviv.

The Islamic militant group Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for that attack, as it has for most of the suicide bombings that have taken place in Israel, since an informal truce was agreed to between Israel and Palestinian groups last year.