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At least seven dead in bombing on Jerusalem bus

Third incident within hours of Sharon-Abbas meeting

The commuter bus was entering the city center at morning rush hour when the bomb was detonated.
The commuter bus was entering the city center at morning rush hour when the bomb was detonated.

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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- A suicide bombing on a commuter bus Sunday morning killed at least seven people and wounded 19 others, Israeli police said.

Moments later, a second suicide bombing took place nearby in East Jerusalem, police said, but no one was injured other than the bomber.

The commuter bus was entering the center of the city from a suburb of East Jerusalem when the explosion happened just after 6 a.m. [11 p.m. Saturday EDT], Israeli police said.

Sunday is a working day in Israel; the blast happened as the early morning rush hour was beginning.

The bombing was the third violent incident within hours of a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem. (Full story)

A suicide bomber killed an Israeli couple early Saturday evening in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank town of Hebron, Israeli military officials said.

Early Sunday, soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces killed two armed Palestinians after they entered the Sha-ari Tikva settlement in the western part of the West Bank and began shooting at settlers, Israeli military sources said.

Israeli forces gather at the bombing site in Hebron.
Israeli forces gather at the bombing site in Hebron.

Two Israelis, including a security guard, were wounded, an Israeli medical relief group said.

In the Saturday attack, officials said a Palestinian man dressed as a Sabbath-observing Jew walked into a neighborhood of the Jewish settlement in Hebron. Israel Defense Forces soldiers patrolling the area called for him to stop, and the man started running toward the Tomb of the Patriarchs, known to Palestinians as Ibrahimi Mosque. Some Israeli settlers also chased the man.

The man detonated the explosives at about 7:30 p.m. [12:30 p.m. EDT], killing an Israeli man and his wife who had been heading to the tomb for prayers to mark the end of the Sabbath. The woman, who was pregnant, was severely wounded in the blast and later died from her injuries, Israeli military sources said.

Izzedine al Qassam, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization Hamas, sent a leaflet to news agencies saying the bomber was one of its members. Hamas is labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department.

The attack occurred about an hour before a planned meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. (Full story)

"This is another grim reminder" for the Palestinian Authority "to take steps to crack down on those who are responsible for these attacks," said Ra'anan Gissin, a senior adviser to Sharon.

On the Jewish Sabbath, Palestinians are required to stay in their homes to allow Jews safe passage to the tomb, a site considered holy by Muslims and Jews.

Israeli officials said they believe the bomber was heading toward the tomb before the chase.

The Israeli couple lived in the Jewish settlement of Kyriat Arba, outside Hebron, Israel officials said.

Hebron has been a flash point of Jewish-Arab violence.

About 450 Jews, surrounded by 130,000 Palestinians, live in a settlement in the southern West Bank town. About 30,000 Palestinians living near Jewish enclaves are in Israeli-controlled areas and are frequently subject to curfews.

In November, Palestinian militants killed 12 Israeli soldiers and police in an ambush as they were walking from the tomb.

In 1994, Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians praying in a mosque adjacent to the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

Hamas was founded in the late 1980s. Izzedine al Qassam has admitted responsibility for terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and attacks against the Israeli military.

-- CNN's Avit Dalgoshen contributed to this report.


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