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At least 10 dead in Jerusalem terror attack

Palestinian sources: Police officer set off blast

Rescue workers inspect the area near the bombed bus after the suicide terror attack Thursday in Jerusalem.
Rescue workers inspect the area near the bombed bus after the suicide terror attack Thursday in Jerusalem.

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CNN's John Vause reports on the deadly suicide bombing aboard a bus in Jerusalem.
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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- At least 10 people were killed on Thursday when a Palestinian policeman got on a passenger bus in Jerusalem and set off a blast as the vehicle neared the Israeli prime minister's home, according to Israeli officials and Palestinian sources.

At least 45 people were wounded in the terror attack, which Israeli officials said proved the need for what Israel calls a "security fence," intended to block terrorists from entering the country.

Early Friday, Israeli security forces entered the West Bank town of Bethlehem, the Israel Defense Forces said, without giving details.

World leaders condemned Thursday's terror attack in Jerusalem.

"Once again, terrorists have killed innocent people and at the same time they have struck a blow once more against the aspirations of the Palestinian people to have a homeland of their own," U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said. "This kind of action has got to stop."

In Brussels, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said, "Once again I appeal, to Israelis and Palestinians alike, to rise above feelings of anger and vengeance, however natural, and to devote all their energies to negotiating a true and lasting peace in which two peoples will live side by side, each in their own state."

The bombing occurred 8:45 a.m. local time in a neighborhood of West Jerusalem where Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's official residence is located. The Israeli leader was not at home at the time. Also nearby is Cafe Moment, where a suicide bomber killed 11 people and wounded dozens of others in March 2002.

The explosion tore apart bus No. 19, traveling from Jerusalem's Hadassa Ein Karem Hospital.

Palestinian security sources said the policeman, Ali Ja'ara, left a will with the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the militant offshoot of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement. In the will, Ja'ara said his motive was to "avenge the massacres" being carried out by Israel in Gaza.

The U.S. State Department has designated Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades as a foreign terrorist organization.

On Wednesday, Israeli forces shot and killed eight Palestinians, including at least three members of the Islamic Jihad, and wounded six others during a raid near Gaza City, Palestinian security and medical sources said. (Full story)

The Israel Defense Forces said its soldiers were returning fire toward Palestinians.

Sharon's adviser Dore Gold said Thursday's suicide attack had been planned for weeks and was not in response to the deadly Gaza raid.

Gold said the attack underscored the need for physical separation between Israel and the West Bank.

"Only the completion of Israel's security fence -- which some are trying to stop using the U.N. and the International Court of Justice -- will finally provide security for Israelis against these kinds of attacks," he said.

Next month, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, will debate the legality of the barrier, which Palestinians call a "wall" and believe is an Israeli attempt at a land grab.

The suicide attack drew an immediate condemnation from chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat.

"We always condemn targeting of civilians -- Israeli or Palestinian." he said. "This cycle can only end through the resumption of a meaningful peace process."

The violence came as Israel and the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah conducted a historic prisoner exchange Thursday after years of secret negotiations. (Full story)

Thursday's suicide did not affect the Israel-Hezbollah prisoner exchange, which took place in the West Bank, Gaza, and at an airfield in Cologne, Germany. As part of the swap, Israel released two top Hezbollah leaders and more than 400 other prisoners. In return, Hezbollah released an Israeli businessman and the remains of three Israeli soldiers.

CNN Correspondents Matthew Chance and John Vause contributed to this report.


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