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Bomb Explodes in Jerusalem, 6 Dead

March 2, 2002

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JERUSALEM (AP) _ An apparent suicide bomber detonated a powerful explosive in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem on Saturday night, killing at least six people and wounding more than 30 as residents left synagogues and returned to the streets at the end of the Jewish sabbath, police said.

The thunderous blast was heard throughout downtown Jerusalem, and sent flames leaping into the air from a car that caught fire. Police initially said it was a car bombing. But Levy said later it appeared to be a suicide bombing.

``From a check of the cars, it seems it wasn’t a car bomb, but a suicide bomber who approached a group of people,″ said Jerusalem police chief Mickey Levy.

With sirens wailing, ambulances and police cars rushed to Mea Shearim, an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in west Jerusalem. It is just across a main road from Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem.

``I came right out (on the street) and saw a car on fire, the building next to it was also on fire,″ said witness Yitzhak Weinberger, 22.

Firefighters hosed down a smoking car and rescue workers carried away the wounded on stretchers. The blast occurred as observant Jews were leaving synagogues at the end of the sabbath, which runs from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday.

In addition to the attacker, at least six people were killed, including a 1-year-old child, according to hospital officials and Levy. More than 30 people were injured, the officials said.

``This has nothing to do with warfare, this nothing to do with national liberation, this has to do with the murder of innocent Jews, coming back from their evening prayers,″ said Israeli government spokesman Dore Gold. ``The state of Israel knows how to defend the people of Israel, and will do so.″

Palestinians, meanwhile, have expressed outrage at Israel’s military incursion into two West Bank refugee camps over the past three days, and Palestinian militants had vowed to respond with attacks.

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