Israeli mafia leader is killed in car bombing

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The Independent Online

Alleged gangland boss Yaakov Alperon, one of Israel's most wanted men, was killed by a car bomb in Tel Aviv yesterday, highlighting public fears of rising crime.

Alperon, 54, was being hunted by police as the head of one of some half a dozen Israeli criminal clans.

A bomb believed to have been set off by remote control exploded shortly after he drove off in a rental car from a Tel Aviv court where his son had been indicted for extortion and assault. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Alperon was a colourful figure with a brutal reputation that earned him local comparisons with Italian mafia figures. He was a scion of Egyptian immigrants, and had a long list of enemies and rivals.

Police voiced fears of retribution, reflecting how gangland-style violence on Israeli streets now sometimes rivals concerns over conflict with the Palestinians. Eight Israelis have been killed in mafia-style executions in recent years.

"A very serious incident took place today, the consequences of which are very clear. We will draw the appropriate operational lessons," Tel Aviv police chief Ilan Franco said.

Israeli media said police suspected a bomb had been planted while the vehicle was parked near the courthouse, and that a parking attendant had been detained for questioning.

Two passers-by including a 13-year-old boy were lightly injured by the blast, which was originally wrongly reported by an emergency service as a bus bomb.

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