Three Israelis are killed in suicide bomb attack on bus

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The ruthless and indiscriminate tactics of the suicide bomber returned to the Middle East last night when a Palestinian man blew himself up on a bus, killing himself and at least three other passengers.

It was the first successful suicide bombing inside Israel since 11 September and – although kamikaze gunmen have randomly attacked civilians within Israel's pre-1967 borders on several occasions since – it marked a return to methods that dominated the conflict before the attacks on the United States

The explosion destroyed a municipal bus near the coastal town of Hadera, close to an Israeli army base. It had been travelling from Nazareth, an Arab city inside Israel, to Tel Aviv. Officials said 10 people were wounded, four critically, in a blast which would have claimed many more lives, had the bus not been nearly empty.

It was part of another bloody day which saw six deaths by the early evening, despite the presence in the region of a US mediating team whose attempts to enforce a ceasefire agreement have yet to yield any results.

Only a few days after completing a slow withdrawal from recently invaded West Bank towns, large numbers of Israeli army troops were – according to Palestinian sources – last night surrounding the town of Qalqilya and nearby villages.