Tue, May 21, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Suicide bomber kills himself day after attack killed four


A Palestinian militant detonated explosives at a busy intersection yesterday as he was approached by police -- killing himself, but causing no other injuries in the second suicide bombing in northern Israel in two days.

On Sunday, three Israelis and a bomber were killed in a blast in an outdoor market in the coastal city of Netanya. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, or PFLP, a radical PLO faction, claimed responsibility for Sunday's attack.

The PFLP is headed by Ahmed Saadat, who is detained in a Palestinian jail in the West Bank town of Jericho under British and US supervision, along with a Palestinian Authority official suspected of weapons smuggling and four PFLP members convicted of killing an Israeli Cabinet minister.

An Israeli government spokesman, Danny Shek, said Israel has information that Saadat "might have been instrumental in commanding and masterminding the bombing." Shek said the circumstances of Saadat's detention should be looked at.

However, Deputy Defense Minister Dalia Rabin Pelossof said yesterday there was no conclusive proof that Saadat ordered the Netanya attack.

Saadat has given a phone interview from detention, and Israeli media reports said he had access to phones and has received visits from PFLP activists.

Mena Rawlings, a spokesman for the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, said British officials have asked Israel to substantiate the allegations that Saadat had a role in the bombing. "We recognize that it's a pressing matter for the detaining body which is the Palestinian Authority," Rawlings said, adding that US and British officials would raise the matter with the Palestinians.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for yesterday's attack at the Taanakhim Junction, a few kilometers west of the West Bank.

Police said a local driver notified authorities when a man waiting at the junction's bus stop aroused his suspicion. When the patrol asked the man for identification, he exploded himself, said police spokesman Gil Kleiman.

In Sunday's attack in Netanya, three Israelis were killed and about 50 wounded. Among those killed was Arkady Wieselman, 39, a hotel chef who had narrowly escaped the March 27 bombing at the Park Hotel in Netanya, in which 29 diners were killed -- the deadliest bombing since such attacks began several years ago.

Israeli tanks briefly entered the West Bank towns of Tulkarem and Ramallah late Sunday, but there was no major retaliation for the Netanya bombing.

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