Two killed in suicide attack at French Hill in Jerusalem
At least 15 people hurt; Jerusalem police chief: Blast carried out by female suicide bomber; Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claims responsiblity.
Two Border Policemen were killed and some 15 Israelis were wounded Wednesday afternoon in an terror attack at the French Hill neighborhood of northern Jerusalem.
The blast, at around 3:45 P.M. at the French Hill junction hitchhiking post on the road leading to the Dead Sea, was carried out by a female suicide bomber, said Jerusalem police chief Ilan Franco.
The two fatalities were later named as 20-year-old Mamoya Tahio and 19-year-old Menashe Komemi.
Border Policemen at the scene prevented the bomber from entering the hitchhiking post where there were dozens of people.
The suicide bomber, later identified by Palestinian sources as 18-year-old Zayneb Abu Salem from the Askar refugee camp in Nablus, arrived at the junction from the direction of Jerusalem, wearing a veil and holding a bag containing the shrapnel-packed explosive device weighing around 5kg.
Eyewitnesses told police that the female terrorist had tried to enter the hitchhiking post, but had raised the suspicions of the Border Policemen stationed there.
According to the eyewitness accounts, the woman had argued with one of the Border Policemen, who wanted her to submit to a body search, and when the second officer approached the two, she detonated the explosives.
Franco said that the actions of the Border Policeman had prevented a much larger attack.
The blast destroyed the bus stop at the site, leaving shards of glass scattered in the road as the smell of burnt rubber wafted in the air.
Of the wounded, two people have serious injuries and 13 others sustained light and moderate wounds. One of the wounded is a 9-year-old child. The wounded were taken to Hadassah University Hospitals in Ein Karem and Mount Scopus and Shaare Zedek Hospital.
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the military wing of Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that the bomber came from the area of the West Bank city of Jenin.
The group said the attack was in retaliation for the killings of Palestinian militants in Nablus and Jenin.
Speaking in response to the attack during an interview being conducted at the time, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that Israel would strike Palestinian militants with "all force."
Palestinian Cabinet Minister Saeb Erekat condemned the attack, saying the Palestinians oppose all violence aimed at civilians.
Security forces sealed off the area of the attack and carried out searches for additional explosive devices, and set up roadblocks in the Ramallah area, not far north of French Hill.
The French Hill junction has been the scene of numerous terror attacks during the past four years of Israeli-Palestinian violence, including a 2002 suicide bombing in which six people were killed and 50 wounded.
This was the first suicide bombing in Israel since the August 31 double suicide bus bombing in Be'er Sheva that killed 16 people.