Guard killed and 10 hurt in Israel suicide attack

Thursday 24 April 2003 00:00

A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up at a train station in the central Israeli town of Kfar Saba during today's morning rush hour, killing himself and a security guard and wounding 10 bystanders.

The bomber was stopped by security guards at the entrance to the station, preventing greater casualties, police said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, though first reports said the bomber came from the Balata refugee camp in the West Bank.

The blast came a day after Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and his prime minister-designate, Mahmoud Abbas, set aside their differences over the composition of a new Palestinian Cabinet, paving the way for the presentation of a US-backed peace plan that envisions Palestinian statehood within three years.

Abbas has been an outspoken critic of attacks on Israelis by Palestinian militants, and is expected to oversee a crackdown on Palestinian militias, along with Mohammed Dahlan, a former Gaza strongman he appointed to a top security post.

Hamas leaders said yesterday that they would continue their attacks, but would stop short of engaging in blood confrontations with Palestinian security forces.

Thursday's blast went off shortly after 7 a.m. (0400 GMT), at a train station in Kfar Saba, north of Tel Aviv, as commuters waited to travel to work.

The entrance to the station was blown out, with wires dangling from the ceiling and debris scattered across the steps. Dazed passengers were led away from the station, including members of a scout troop who sat on a sidewalk, sipping water.

Yeruham Mandola, spokesman for Israel's Magen David Adom rescue service, said 10 people were wounded, including two who were in serious condition.

Kfar Saba lies just a few kilometers from the Palestinian town of Qalqiliya in the West Bank, and has been frequently targeted in 31 months of fighting.

David Baker, an official in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's office, said the bombing was "a vicious attack against in Israeli civilians and another attempt to instill fear in the heart of Israelis."

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