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W. Bank Car Blast Kills 1, Hurts 2

September 29, 1998

BEITUNIA, West Bank (AP) _ A car rigged with explosives blew up today in a West Bank industrial area, killing a Hamas activist and wounding two other supporters of the Islamic militant group, Palestinian police said.

Israel has been bracing for Hamas bombing attacks, and today sealed its borders with the West Bank and Gaza Strip ahead of the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur to prevent possible violence.

There previously have been several incidents in which Hamas activists were killed or injured while trying to rig a car with explosives in preparation for an attack.

The explosion went off at about 1:30 p.m. in an industrial area of Beitunia, a suburb of the West Bank town of Ramallah. Palestinian police said the car had been rigged with large amounts of explosives, but did not give an amount.

The force of the blast cut the white car in half and blew out the doors and roof, leaving only the hood and front seats. The car had Israeli license plates.

The explosion killed Zahran Ibrahim Zahran, 35, from the West Bank village of Biddou, said Jibril Rajoub, the Palestinian security chief in the West Bank.

The two injured men, brothers from Biddou, were taken to Ramallah Hospital where they were placed under police guard, said Ramallah Police Chief Kamal Sheik.

All three were known Hamas activists, security officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity.

Today’s explosion occurred not far from where the body of the chief Hamas bombmaker, Mohiyedine Sharif, was found last spring after a car explosion. The circumstances of his death remain unclear.

Palestinian investigators have said Sharif was shot to death by a rival in Hamas in a dispute over money and power, and that the car explosion was staged to cover up the shooting.

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