Bomb explodes near Jerusalem bus, 1 dead, 30 hurt

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 23, 2011 11:36 AM

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A bomb exploded on a busy roadway in Jerusalem on Wednesday, killing one person and causing some 30 injuries, and police blamed the blast on Palestinian militants.

It was the first such bombing in the city in seven years.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosion, which Israeli police termed a Palestinian "suicide attack."

Israeli authorities said the bomb was hidden in a suitcase near the bus stop, close to Jerusalem's main conference hall and central bus terminal in the Jewish western part of the city.

At the height of a Palestinian uprising that began in 2000, but which died out in recent years, militants carried out dozens of often deadly bombings in Jerusalem.

The blast, which coincided with a surge of violence along the Israel-Gaza border, shook downtown Jerusalem in the afternoon.

Dozens of ambulances raced to the scene, a bus stop where the windows of a bus were shattered by the blast that occurred outside the vehicle. Blood stained the pavement.

"(We believe) the device weighed about 1-2 kilos... .It exploded in a small suitcase on the sidewalk next to the bus stop," Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch told Israel's Channel 2 television.

The blast injured about 30 people and one of them, a woman, died in hospital, medical officials said.

A paramedic said he had been meeting colleagues in an office nearby to discuss the dispatch of a medical team to disaster-hit Japan when they heard a loud explosion.

"We didn't wait even for a second, we just got up and ran to the bus station. I saw two women lying on the ground, unconscious and covered in blood," the medic, Motti Bukchi, told Channel Two. "I can't say what sort of injuries they suffered. They were covered completely in blood."

After the incident, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu postponed by several hours his departure to Russia, where he will hold talks with Russian leaders in Moscow before returning to Israel on Thursday.

(Writing by Jeffrey Heller; editing by Mark Heinrich)