Bomb explodes near Jerusalem bus, 30 hurt

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 23, 2011 10:33 AM

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A bomb exploded near a bus stop in a Jewish neighbourhood of Jerusalem on Wednesday, injuring at least 30 people, police and medics said.

Police described the explosion as a "terrorist attack" -- Israel's term for a Palestinian strike. It was the first such bombing in Jerusalem in seven years.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which police said was caused by a bomb planted close to Jerusalem's main conference hall and central bus terminal.

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, where the windows of a bus were shattered and 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.

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 Israel's Channel Two television.

"I can't say what sort of injuries they suffered, they were covered completely in blood."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu postponed his departure to Russia after the incident. He had been scheduled to hold talks with Russian leaders in Moscow and return on Thursday.

(Writing by Jeffrey Heller, Editing by Crispian Balmer)