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Female Suicide Bomber Strikes Jerusalem Neighborhood - 2004-09-22

A female suicide bomber blew herself up in a Jerusalem neighborhood where hitchhikers gather, killing at least two and injuring more than a dozen others. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says he will strike back at militants. The Palestinian militant group al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has claimed responsibility.

Witnesses say the female suicide bomber blew herself up as a border policeman approached her. She was in a street crosswalk near a favorite hitchhiker gathering spot for soldiers when police became suspicious of her.

The neighborhood, known as French Hill, borders the so-called Green Line that separates Israel from the West Bank.

In a phone call to an international news agency, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades says the attack was in retaliation for Israel's recent targeted killings of Palestinian militants in the West Bank. The militant group is linked to Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.

Prime Minister Sharon says Israel will strike Palestinian militants, in his words, with all force. He told Israeli TV his government will continue to fight against such terrorism.

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom also deplored the attack. Speaking to reporters at the United Nations in New York, he criticized the Palestinians and called for unity against terror.

"It shows that the Palestinians would not like to abandon this tool of terrorism against us," Mr. Shalom said. "And I think the world should be united in its combat against terrorism because the world realizes that it's a global terrorism, it's not a problem of Israel anymore. Terrorism can hit everyone, and everywhere."

Palestinian minister Saeb Erekat has also condemned the attack. He says Palestinians oppose violence against civilians. He called on Washington to help jump-start peace talks to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The suicide bombing on Wednesday is the first in Jerusalem since last February.

Last month two attacks in the southern city of Beersheva killed 16 people.