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Arafat Condemns Attacks on US - 2001-09-11

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has condemned the terrorist attacks in the United States and offered his condolences. Palestinian militant groups have distanced themselves from any links to the horror that engulfed Washington and New York.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat says he is shocked and baffled by what has happened. He has been following developments on television at his headquarters in Gaza.

"First of all, I am offering my condolences, the condolences of the Palestinian people for the American President Bush, to his government, to the American people for this terrible act," he said. "We are completely shocked, completely shocked. It's unbelievable."

The leader of the fundamentalist group Hamas Sheik Yassin has denied any links to the terrorist attacks but says such terror is the result of what he calls U.S. policies of oppression.

The radical group, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, also has denied any links to the terrorist operations.

Many ordinary Palestinians poured into the streets in towns and refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza to celebrate. Anti-U.S. sentiment has increased among Palestinians who are frustrated with the stalled peace process and complain that Washington is too biased toward Israel.

But many other Palestinians have expressed shock and fear that they will become the target of hate attacks even though they do not believe any Palestinian groups were behind the terror.

Inside Israel, security forces are on alert. Israeli airspace has been closed to foreign planes. The government has also increased security around all U.S. installations in the country.