At Least 7 Die in Jerusalem Blast

ByABC News
June 19, 2002, 4:52 AM

June 19 -- A Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up at a bus station in Jerusalem today, killing at least six bystanders just hours after the Israeli government, in a major policy shift, said it would seize and hold Palestinian lands until the "terror attacks stop."

Jerusalem Police Chief Mickey Levy said a man came out of a car and rushed toward a crowd of people gathered at a bus station in the French Hill neighborhood in northeastern Jerusalem. He was pursued by a security officer who failed to catch up with him. The man blew himself up near the bus station.

Police and rescue workers said that besides the seven deaths, including that of the bomber, about 35 people were injured in the blast.

A few hours after the attack, Israeli helicopter gunships fired at least three missiles into Gaza City. The army said the helicopters hit a couple of metal factories used for manufacturing weapons, and then left.

And Palestinian sources told ABCNEWS that Israeli tanks and troops swept into the West Bank city of Ramallah after the latest suicide bombing and arrested a suspected militant before withdrawing from the city.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a militant group with ties to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah organization, claimed responsibility for today's suicide attack, according to a report by al Manar, the Lebanon-based Hezbollah television station.

At the bus station in French Hill today, witnesses said the explosion blew out the bus shelter, and body parts and pieces of clothing were scattered around the site, which was at a busy junction frequented by Israeli soldiers and settlers.

According to Levy, the suicide bomber was driven to the site in a red Audi, which immediately drove away. Jerusalem police have launched a manhunt for the driver.

The explosion came a day after a Palestinian suicide bombing attack on a crowded Jerusalem bus killed 19 people, including several high-school students, in the city's worst attack in six years.