Gunman wounds 20 in central Jerusalem before being shot dead
Tuesday, January 22nd 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
JERUSALEM (AP) _ A gunman opened fire with an assault rifle on Israelis waiting for a bus on a busy, rain-slick downtown street Tuesday afternoon, wounding at least 20 people before he was shot dead by police, officials said.
Palestinian security sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the gunman was Saeed Ramadan, a member of the Al Aqsa Brigades, which is linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement.
Ramadan's uncle, Adnan Ramadan, mayor of the West Bank village of Tel, confirmed his nephew was the gunman and said he was a member of the naval police.
Israeli authorities said they held Arafat and the Palestinian Authority ultimately responsible and a strong Israel response was likely.
``We are witnessing a continuous and endless campaign of terror against Israeli civilians, perpetrated by different Palestinian terrorist organizations under the umbrella of the Palestinian Authority,'' said Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner.
A source in the Al Aqsa Brigades said the attack was revenge for the killing _ widely attributed to Israel _ of the group's leader, Raed Karmi, in the West Bank town of Tulkarem.
The shooting came hours after Israeli commandos killed four members of the militant Islamic group Hamas in a raid on their hideout and explosives lab in Nablus in the West Bank. The Islamic militant group said in a leaflet it would respond with an ``all-out war'' against Israeli soldiers and settlers.
In Jerusalem, the gunman began firing on people at a bus stop near one of the busiest intersections in west Jerusalem. Pedestrians dived for cover. Some Israeli civilians who were armed drew their weapons, but did not fire.
Witness Akiva Harari, 21, said the attacker, wearing a heavy coat, emerged from a parking lot onto Jaffa Street, downtown Jerusalem's main artery. ``I saw him shoot two women and they fell,'' he said. Police then chased the gunman back into the parking lot.
Sporadic gunfire continued for about 10 minutes, according to an Associated Press reporter who was in the area when the shooting started. Large numbers of police quickly arrived on the scene.
``The terrorist tried to run away, but after a short chase, police succeeded in hitting him and killed him,'' said Jerusalem police chief Mickey Levy. ``There was only one terrorists attacker, his rifle is in our hands and the area is being evacuated.''
At least 20 people were wounded, one seriously, according to Alex Farkash, a spokesman at Bikur Holim Hospital.
The shooting occurred near the corner of Jaffa and King George streets, only a few yards from where a suicide bomber blew himself up at a pizzeria in August, killing 15 people.