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4 Killed in Tel Aviv Suicide Bombing - 2003-04-30


A Palestinian suicide bomber killed three bystanders and injured at least 40 others when he blew himself up in front of a popular cafe in Tel Aviv. Among those claiming responsibility is a militant group linked to Fatah, the political faction of Yasser Arafat and his newly endorsed Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

The target was a popular nightspot on Tel Aviv's beach promenade. The young suicide bomber apparently walked up to the cafe around 1:00 a.m. local time, but was prevented entry by a security guard at the front door. He then blew himself up.

Police say if the bomber had gotten inside the cafe the casualty toll would be much higher.

The suicide bomber apparently came from the West Bank city of Tulkarem and had set out to avenge the death of another militant who'd been killed by the Israeli army earlier.

The militant group Hamas and the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, which is linked to Fatah, have claimed joint responsibility.

The bombing came just hours after the new Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas was endorsed by the legislature. Mr. Abbas has denounced violence and vowed to get rid of illegal weapons. He has indicated he would rein in Palestinian militants and has called for a return to peace negotiations with the Israelis.

Militant groups including Hamas and Islamic Jihad have said they will not disarm and will continue attacks against Israel. Some say Wednesday's bombing was a clear message from the militants to Mr. Abbas and a warning against trying to curb militant activity.

Israeli officials have said the new Abbas government must make cracking down on the militants its top priority.

Washington has condemned the attack, but said it would not derail plans by the Bush Administration to unveil the so-called road map to Middle East peace.

The plan, which outlines steps to stop the violence, return to the negotiating table and establish an independent Palestinian state by 2005, is expected to be presented to Israelis and Palestinians after Mahmoud Abbas is officially sworn in later Wednesday.