Bulldozer rams vehicles in Jerusalem

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The Independent Online

A Palestinian driver crashed his bulldozer into a police car and hit a bus on a busy Jerusalem highway on Thursday before police and a taxi driver shot him dead.

An open Koran, the Muslim holy book, was found in the driver's cabin, Niso Shaham, Jerusalem's deputy police chief, told reporters at the scene. A police spokesman said it was a "terrorist" attack.

Palestinian residents identified the driver as Marei Radaydeh, a West Bank construction worker who lived with his family in the Arab East Jerualem neighourhood of Beit Hanina.

Police have yet to announce results of its investigation.

No Palestinian militant groups have claimed responsibility for the incident, which came a day after a visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Hamas said the attack was a "natural response" to Israel's demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and to the Jewish state's military offensive in the Gaza Strip, which the Islamist movement controls.

Riyad al-Malki, information minister for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Western-backed government, described the incident as a "traffic accident", and called for an investigation into why he was shot.

Police and witnesses said the driver of the bulldozer first turned over a police car, crushing its roof and injuring two officers inside.

The bulldozer then slammed the police car into a large bus but no one was hurt, police said.

The driver, whom police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld called a "terrorist", was not carrying any identification papers.

Nir Barkat, Jerusalem's mayor, said he would recommend that authorities take "the harshest measures we can take by law" against those involved in the attack. Two of Radaydeh's brothers were later arrested, family members said.

Israel has previously threatened to demolish the homes of Palestinian attackers.

Police compared Thursday's attack to three similar incidents last year, two with bulldozers and one with a BMW car

In the 2008 incidents, which police also called "terrorist" attacks, the drivers were identified as Palestinians from Arab East Jerusalem.

One witness, who identified himself as Shai, said the bulldozer driver was shot by both a policeman and a civilian who was later identified by police as a taxi driver.

Amateur video obtained by Reuters captured the sound of four gunshots fired near the bulldozer, which came to a stop at the end of a highway that leads to Jerusalem's main shopping mall.

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