Bomber Kills at Least 18 in Israel
VOA News 04 Oct 2003, 15:55 UTC
A female suicide bomber has blown herself up at a popular restaurant in northern Israel, killing at least 17 others and prompting new calls for the removal of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Officials say the blast at the Maxim beach restaurant in Haifa wounded at least 50 others, many seriously. Police say the bomber shot the security guard outside the restaurant and detonated an explosive charge strapped to her body once inside. The blast blew out the windows and severely damaged the building.
The promenade in Haifa is normally packed with people on Saturdays, the Jewish sabbath. On Friday, Israel closed off the West Bank and Gaza Strip in an attempt to prevent suicide bombings ahead of the Jewish Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) holiday. It begins Sunday at sundown.
Israeli Health Minister Dany Naveh said this attack should spur the removal of the Palestinian leader. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has called an emergency cabinet meeting to determine Isreal's response. Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Ahmed Qureia called on all Palestinian factions to immediately halt attacks on civilians.
No one has immediately claimed responsibility for Saturday's bombing.
Last month, Mr. Sharon's cabinet approved the removal of Mr. Arafat after two separate suicide attacks on September ninth killed 15 people. But Israel has not set a timetable for when it will do so.
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