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US Embassy Guards Help Avert Terror Attack in Israel - 2002-10-12

A major terror attack was averted in Tel Aviv on Friday by U.S. embassy security guards, who overpowered a would-be Palestinian suicide bomber. The man had intended to blow up a café close to the embassy.

Police say a Palestinian wearing explosives intended to blow himself up at a café, just 20 meters from the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv. The embassy is located along a beachfront promenade, lined with bars, restaurants and high-rise hotels and the area is normally crowded on Friday nights.

A security guard at one of the cafes searched a man trying to enter the establishment and discovered he was carrying explosives.

After being discovered, the man ran away and the guard chased after him, while calling out for help from security personnel at the embassy. Security guards from the embassy joined the pursuit, helping to tackle the man and pin him against a car.

Police were called and a bomb squad arrived on the scene and removed a vest of explosives from the man. The would-bomber, believed to be a resident of the West Bank, was taken into custody and is being held for questioning.

Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, praised the guards for their actions. He said their bravery showed a determination to "fight back and not to succumb to terror".

At the same time, Mr. Gissin blamed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for the attempted attack, saying he had done nothing to halt Palestinian terrorism. The incident follows Thursday's Palestinian suicide bombing, also in Tel Aviv, that killed one Israeli woman and injured dozens of others.