Suspects Arrested in Gaza Strip Bombing of American ConvoyBy Greg Myre
The New York Times -- GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip
Facing criticism from the United States, Palestinian authorities arrested several suspects Thursday in the bombing of an American diplomatic convoy that killed three American security specialists in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian police officers traded gunfire with militants during an overnight raid into the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, near the site of Wednesday’s bombing, according to Palestinian security officials and residents in the area. At least six suspects were taken into custody, officials said.
The bomb on Wednesday was planted on Gaza’s main north-south road and detonated under a Chevrolet Suburban shortly after the convoy entered Gaza. It was the first lethal attack on an official American target in three years of fighting and raised questions about whether violent Palestinian factions were changing tactics.
Bush administration officials said on Thursday they believed that the attack was indeed part of a new, deliberate effort by Palestinian militants to target diplomats.
An administration official would not say how the administration had reached its conclusion. Until now, Palestinian militant organizations in Gaza and the West Bank have confined their attacks to Israeli targets and avoided those connected to the United States.
“It does look like a conscious effort to target the American diplomatic mission, and that’s very worrying,” the official said.
All major Palestinian factions have denied involvement, saying their conflict is with Israel and that they oppose striking at Americans.
The Palestinian Authority did not release any official information on the arrests or the investigation. But one security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said at least three of the six Palestinians detained belonged to the Popular Resistance Committees, a loosely organized group made up of militants from various factions.