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14 killed in Jerusalem suicide bombings

Boy in a chair

More than 150 injured

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July 30, 1997
Web posted at: 1:42 p.m. EDT (1742 GMT)

JERUSALEM(CNN) -- Two bombs killed 14 people and injured more than 150 in a crowded Jerusalem market Wednesday, dealing a blow to attempts to revive the stalled Middle East peace process. There are reports that Islamic Jihad and Hamas have both claimed responsibility for the attack.

Police originally said 18 had died, but later revised the figure, and also said the dead included the bodies of the two suspected suicide bombers.

A L S O :

World leaders condemn Jerusalem bomb attacks

The explosions went off within seconds of each other, about 50 meters (yards) apart in the city's main fruit and vegetable market. A national police spokesman said there had been no warning prior to the blasts, which occurred at about 1:15 p.m. (1015 GMT).

Police surrounded the immediately after the blasts, and dozens of ambulances lined up along the busy Jaffa Road, rushing victims to hospitals.

Arafat calls Netanyahu

Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Ezer Weizman to express his condolences over the loss of life in the bombings.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacts to the bombing
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"President Arafat called both the Israeli president and Prime Minister Netanyahu to pay his condolences over the victims of the explosions," a statement issued by Arafat's office said. "He wished those injured a quick recovery."

Arafat has not issued a public condemnation of the attack.

Netanyahu demanded that Arafat and his Palestinian Authority "begin fighting terror as it was supposed to and hasn't done until now."

Jerrold Kessel reports from Jerusalem
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Jerrold Kessel describes the people who were at the market
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Speaking at a news conference shortly after the attack, Netanyahu said, "We expect not really words of consolation from the Palestinian Authority and from its leader. What we expect is action. We expect action to apprehend these terrorists and their leaders. We expect action to collect the explosives and weapons that are there in the field and can be collected."

After the blasts, Israeli Police Chief Assaf Hefetz told reporters a closure had been imposed on the West Bank and Gaza Strip barring the entry of Palestinians to Israel.

Bombers may have been disguised

Unconfirmed Israeli radio reports said the bombers apparently drove to the market disguised in black coats with white shirts, perhaps in an effort to look like ultra-Orthodox Jews.

At the blast scene, witnesses described the devastation.

A witness to the scene describes his feelings for the peace process
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"There was a huge explosion. I was on a bus on the street entrance of the market. I saw dozens of , inside the market," witness David Levy told Israel's army radio.

"There was dust everywhere," another man, Avner, told Israel Radio. "I was inside the shop when the explosion took place.

"Anybody who was between two walls was saved, anybody who poked his head out was killed."

Overview of market

The attack on the Mahane Yehuda market was the deadliest against Israelis since the election of Netanyahu 14 months ago, who campaigned on a promise to better protect Israelis from such attacks.

Peace envoy postpones trip

It also came as U.S. Middle East envoy Dennis Ross was about to go to the Middle East to begin a new mediation effort aimed at resuscitating peace talks between the Israeli government and Palestinians.

U.S. President Bill Clinton condemned the bombing and said the Ross mission had been postponed to allow for a mourning period.

Speaking on CNN, Israeli government spokesman Moshe Fogel accused Palestinians of making only a "lukewarm attempt" to fight terrorism. But chief Palestinian peace negotiator Saeb Erekat said Palestinians were making a "100 percent effort" to fight terrorism, and he called for the peace talks to go forward.

"We should accelerate the peace process," Erekat said. "We should not allow those who are against the peace process to have their day. The Palestinian Authority never has and will never tolerate any violence."

Correspondent Jerrold Kessel has contributed to this report


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