Bomb Explodes in Central Jerusalem; 1 Dead, at Least 30 Hurt

Blast caused by explosive device placed next to telephone pole; 59-year-old killed believed to be foreign citizen; three people seriously wounded; entrance to the city has been closed.

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A bomb exploded Wednesday at a crowded bus stop outside the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, just opposite the central bus station. A 59-year-old woman was killed and at least 30 people were wounded in the incident, three of them seriously.

All of the casualties have been evacuated to the Hadassah Hospital in Ein Karem.

Israel rescue workers and paramedics work at site of explosion at a bus stop in Jerusalem, Wednesday, March 23, 2011.Credit: AP

The blast could be heard throughout Jerusalem and blew out the windows of bus No. 74, traveling from Givat Shaul to Har Homa. The explosive device was apparently hidden in a bag next to a telephone pole.

An owner of a kiosk near the scene of the bombing called the police moments before the blast to report a suspicious object near the bus station, and during the phone conversation the bomb exploded.

An eyewitness in the area at the time of the explosion told Haaretz that she heard a loud blast close to the central bus station and second later sirens began to wail and security forces rushed to the scene.

Meir Hagid, one of the bus drivers, said he heard a loud explosion as he drove by the site, located near the main entrance to Jerusalem and its central bus station.

"I heard the explosion in the bus stop," he said. He halted his vehicle and people got off. He said nobody in his bus was hurt.

View Terror attack in Jerusalem, March 23, 2011 in a larger map

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich told Channel 2 that the bomb was about one to two kilograms (four pounds) and was planted in a small bag on the sidewalk. He said security services were on alert for additional attacks.

The entrance to the city has been closed. Security forces were combing the area for other suspicious packages or objects.

A Channel 2 reporter said that the Palestinian Red Crescent contacted the emergency services to offer assistance in evacuating the wounded.

The 59-year-old woman who was killed in the explosion was believed to be a foreign citizen, and her name was not cleared for publication since her family has yet to be notified.

The woman was seriously wounded as a result of the bombing, and rescue services transferred her to the emergency room in the Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital. Doctors fought for her life for about an hour and ultimately were forced to declare her dead.

Officials in the hospital said that until the late evening hours no family or friends came to look for the woman, and noted that several documents that she possessed indicated that she was a foreign citizen.

The bombing occurred just hours after Gaza militants fired two Grad-type Katyusha rocket at the southern city of Be'er Sheva and a barrage of mortar shells on the western Negev.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu postponed his scheduled trip to Moscow in the wake of the Jerusalem bombing.

Jerusalem has been hit by a number of terror attacks over the last few years, two of them involving tractor drivers that ploughed down a central street.

In the first incident in July 2008, a bulldozer driver hit a bus, pedestrian and cars before he was neutralized by a soldier and civilian who mounted his vehicle and overtook him and then shot and killed him.

The second attack took place three weeks later. Twenty-four people were injured in the attack, one of which moderately to critically wounded. The terrorist hit five cars before he was shot by a civilian and an IDF military border guard officer that were at the scene of the attack.

Three months later, 19 people were injured - two of them critically and four moderately -when an East Jerusalem resident veered off the street onto the sidewalk near the Old City of Jerusalem and crashed into pedestrians. Most of the pedestrians were soldiers. An officer among the group open fire and killed the terrorist.

The capital suffered dozens of suicide bombings that targeted buses and restaurants during the second Palestinian uprising last decade. Jerusalem last experienced a suicide bombing in 2004.

Emergency numbers:

Hadassah Hospital hotline: 1255122

Sha'arei Zedek Hospital 1255125

Jerusalem municipality: 02 5314600



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