Wed, Sep 01, 2004 - Page 1 News List

At least 15 people die as two buses explode in Israel

AP , JERUSALEM

Two buses blew up in a southern Israeli city yesterday, killing at least 15 people and wounding more than 80, in what appeared to be the first Palestinian suicide bombings inside Israel in six months, rescue officials said.

Israel's Channel Two television said the blasts had been carried out by Palestinian suicide bombers, but the report couldn't immediately be confirmed. TV reports said two mangled bodies were found -- presumably those of the bombers.

The buses went up in flames almost simultaneously near a main intersection in the center of Beersheba, the largest city in southern Israel. The city is about 15km from the West Bank and 40km east of the Gaza Strip.

The explosions burned out the two buses, with flames shooting through the roof of one of the vehicles. At least two bodies lay on the ground nearby.

Israel's Magen David Adom rescue service reported at least 15 deaths and 80 wounded, including 20 in serious condition. It was not clear whether the death count included suicide bombers. The rescue service initially said 11 people were killed.

Hezbollah's al-Manar television station in Lebanon quoted Palestinian sources as saying they had carried out martyrdom operations, a phrase used to describe suicide bombings.

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