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Suicide Bombing on Bus Kills Five, Wounds Over 50 in Israel

By Keith B. Richburg
THE WASHINGTON POST -- JERUSALEM

A Palestinian man blew himself up on a crowded bus on a busy street in the heart of Tel Aviv at lunch hour Thursday, killing five Israelis and wounding at least 50. It was the second suicide attack in Israel in as many days, following six and a half weeks without such violence.

After an emergency session Thursday night, the Israeli Cabinet decided to demand the surrender of 20 to 25 Palestinians being sought by Israeli security forces. The Palestinians are inside the compound with Arafat and about 300 other people, an Israeli official said. Israeli soldiers have confined Arafat to the badly damaged complex since June 24.

The suicide bomber earlier Thursday struck at about 1 p.m. on Tel Aviv’s Allenby Street, a fashionable strip of outdoor cafes, restaurants and shops. The attack occurred outside a major synagogue and across the street from a Starbucks cafe.

Witnesses and police said the attacker boarded a No. 4 bus near Rothschild Street. A few seconds later, while at the front of the vehicle, he detonated his bomb, which apparently was packed with metal shards to cause maximum injury and death.

“There was a strong blast, and then I saw the smoke rising from the bus and then the bus continued rolling,” said Yaakov Chen, 87, owner of the Lotus bookshop on Allenby Street. “I heard screaming, crying, and wounded were lying on the sidewalk.”

The bus came to rest about 30 yards beyond the point where the bomb went off.

The explosion shattered the glass door of Chen’s shop, and books in the display window were left covered with glass fragments and bloodstains. A biography of former prime minister Ehud Barak and a book by Sigmund Freud were sprinkled with bits of flesh.

The driver was among those killed and his badly burned body was left slumped in the front of the bus, a wreck of burned and twisted metal.