Explosion goes off in outdoor market in Tel Aviv

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The Independent Online

A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up in a crowded outdoor market in central Tel Aviv today, killing at least four people and wounding 32, medics and police said.

Paramedics treated dazed shoppers on the ground, as vegetables were strewn on the pavement. Police searched the market for additional explosives.

Witnesses said the ground shook when the blast went off near a dairy shop.

"There was a woman whose entire body was torn up, all her body was torn up, " one shopper, Michal Weizman, told Israel Army Radio. "I was about 10 metres from the shop. I saw lots of people lying on the ground, lots of people wounded."

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

David Tzur, a local police commander, said the explosion was set off by a suicide bomber, and that "between four and five" people were killed, including the attacker.

A witness, who was identified only by his first name, Motti, said he heard an explosion in the market. "I thought maybe fireworks, or a gas canister. But then I saw a store completely destroyed. Goods fell to the ground. People ran away. I lost my glasses and my hat," Motti told Israel Army Radio.

It would be the first suicide attack in Israel since August 31, when Palestinian militants simultaneously blew up two buses in the southern desert city of Beersheba, killing 16.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was in parliament when he received the first report of the bombing.

Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat condemned the bombing. "We urge the international community to exert every possible effort to revive the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians, which is the only way to break this viscious cycle of violence," he said.