Blast injures 21 in Tel Aviv

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The Independent Online
ISRAEL TIGHTENED security in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem yesterday after an explosion wounded 21 civilians during the morning rush hour in the Tel Aviv business district.

One woman, who was reported to have lost a leg, was in serious condition after emergency surgery last night. The other casualties included two children, one of them a 17-month-old baby.

Police commanders blamed Palestinian extremists for the blast. The bomb, containing a few hundred grammes of explosives, was packed with nails. It went off in a plastic dustbin at a busy the junction near the city's Great Synagogue. It was officially estimated to have caused 1.5m shekels' worth of damage to property (pounds 250,000).

If the police are right, it looks as if the militants have switched their focus back to population centres inside Israel after recent pinpoint murders of West Bank settlers. The Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said during a meeting with the visiting Baroness Thatcher: "This shows that terror is directed at all of us, not just against Hebron."

The scale and limited ambition of the attack suggests, however, it may have been the work of fringe elements - or it was improvised in a hurry.

Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, leader of the Muslim fundamentalist Hamas, threatened in Gaza on Wednesday to attack Israeli targets in revenge for last week's American missile strikes on Afghanistan and Sudan. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Mr Netanyahu's spokesman, David Bar-Illan, said yesterday: "Without security and without our insistence on security measures that will assure us of real peace, the peace process cannot continue."