Accessibility links

Breaking News

Jerusalem Blast Kills 15 - 2001-08-09

Israeli rescue workers say at least 15 people were killed and 90 injured in an explosion that ripped through a restaurant in Jerusalem Thursday. Medical officials say at least five of the dead are children.

Israeli police say initial indications are a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a popular pizza restaurant on the corner of one of Jerusalem's busiest intersections. The inside of the restaurant, which was crowded with people, was gutted by the blast.

Victims covered with blood were loaded into ambulances and taken to area hospitals. Stunned witnesses sat crying, huddled on the sidewalk. Glass and debris littered the street outside.

Rachel Salkin who works in a bookshop a few doors from where the explosion took place said, "Well we were in here, a few people, my boss and myself and a few customers, and then all of a sudden there was this huge blast and everything just shook," Ms. Salkin said. "We went automatically, we went like down and we immediately knew that something had happened and very close."

Shortly after the explosion police evacuated businesses in the area, fearing that there was another bomb in the restaurant.

Daniel Seaman a spokesman for the Israeli government said, "We were expecting such an attack over the last few days. In the recent weeks, we have been able to prevent such attacks. But you can't stop all of them. In this case, it succeeded." Mr. Seaman said.

Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert said the bombing is a major blow to the city. "This is a very serious attack," Mr. Olmert said. "It couldn't be in a worse place, in the heart of the city of Jerusalem. This is a major, major blow to the city of Jerusalem with quite a number of casualties."

The militant Islamic Jihad group claimed responsibility for the blast, saying it was in response to targeted attacks against Palestinian militants by the Israeli military.