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At Least 16 Dead in Haifa Restaurant Explosion - 2003-10-04

A suicide bomber has blown himself up at a popular restaurant in northern Israel, killing at least 16 people, including five children.

Ambulance services officials say the blast at the Maxim beach restaurant in Haifa wounded dozens of others, many seriously. Some reports put the death toll at 18.

The promenade in Haifa is normally packed with people on Saturdays, the Jewish sabbath. On Friday, Israel closed off the West Bank and Gaza Strip in an attempt to provide a shield from suicide bombings ahead of the Jewish Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) holiday. It begins Sunday at sundown.

An Israeli official blamed the Palestinian Authority for the attack, saying it has not taken steps to dismantle terrorist groups. No one has claimed responsibility for Saturday's bombing.

Two separate suicide attacks on September 9 left 15 people dead. After those incidents, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon threatened to remove Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.