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Americans Warned to Leave Gaza - 2003-10-16

President Bush is condemning the bombing of a U.S. diplomatic convoy in the Gaza Strip that killed three American security officers. All Americans are being warned to leave the area.

President Bush strongly condemned the violence and said U.S. security agents are working with local officials to bring the terrorists to justice.

Several Palestinian militant groups have denied involvement in the attack on the U.S. convoy near a crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip.

President Bush says Palestinian authorities should have acted long ago to fight terrorism. He says their failure to create effective security forces dedicated to ending that violence is continuing to cost lives.

Mr. Bush again blamed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for blocking the creation of an empowered prime minister who controls all Palestinian security forces, saying that failure is the greatest obstacle to achieving a separate Palestinian state.

The president's comments on the bombing came in a written statement from California where he is raising money for next year's election before leaving on a tour of Asia.

The bombing comes a day after Washington vetoed a U.N. resolution condemning Israel's construction of a security barrier that runs through some Palestinian areas in the West Bank.