Explosion strikes bus in northern Israel, at least reported killed

Thursday, November 29th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

JERUSALEM (AP) _ An explosion ripped through a bus on a main highway in northern Israel on Thursday, and Israeli media reported at least three people were killed.

Ambulances and police vehicles raced to the scene. Police commander Yosef Borodski told Israel Radio that three people were killed on the bus and that six people were injured, two critically.

A witness identified as Emanel Biton told Israel Radio that he was driving behind the bus for some time and that it was not full at the time of the blast.

Biton told Army Radio he saw the blast ``rip the bus into pieces, and things were flying everywhere.''

The driver was among those injured, he said.

Another witness, Sadi Ovadia, told Israel TV ``There was nothing left of the bus'' after the blast.

Army Radio said the explosion was apparently caused by a Palestinian suicide bomber. The bus was near an Israeli military base when the explosion occurred.

The road where the explosion took place runs east to west through northern Israel, from Hadera near the coast to Afula, near the Jordan River valley. On Monday, two Palestinian gunmen entered Afula, which is near the West Bank, and opened fire, killing two Israelis. Police shot the attackers dead.

Israeli security forces have been on alert for attacks by Palestinian militants throughout 14 months of Palestinian-Israeli violence. Suicide attacks have taken the lives of dozens of Israelis and wounded hundreds during the fighting.

The attack on the bus came as U.S. envoy Anthony Zinni was holding talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, trying to cement a truce to end the fighting. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was leaving Thursday for the United States and talks with President Bush.