Archive for Friday, March 2, 2001

Palestinian militant suspected in car bomb

March 2, 2001


— An Israeli was killed and nine other people were injured Thursday when a taxi, suspected of carrying a Palestinian militant armed with a bomb, exploded at a police roadblock in northern Israel.

Authorities said the casualties were Arab and Jewish occupants of the minivan cab.

The bombing comes amid increasing clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants who, Israel security officials say, are taking advantage of a leadership vacuum as outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Barak prepares to hand power to Ariel Sharon, the rightist leader reviled by Palestinians.

Police said they believe that the man behind the latest attack was responsible for leaving a briefcase bomb Wednesday near a fast-food restaurant in downtown Tel Aviv. Police evacuated the restaurant and safely detonated the bomb.

On Thursday, police received intelligence information that the man was planning a second attack and that he was traveling north from Tel Aviv, Israel Radio reported.

Police set up a series of roadblocks, including one at the Mei Ami junction near Umm al Fahm, an Israeli Arab city 40 miles northeast of Tel Aviv. As officers inspected a white minivan that had rolled up to the roadblock, the bomb exploded, blasting off the minivan's sides and tearing most of the roof from the vehicle's frame.

Daniel Drossier, a truck driver who had been waiting behind the taxi, had watched as police asked the taxi's occupants to produce their identification.

"After a second or two, (the vehicle) exploded," Drossier said. "It was a very large explosion."

The dead man was identified as Claude Knafo, 27, of the Israeli city of Tiberias.

Israel Radio reported that the man suspected of detonating the bomb was a resident of the West Bank town of Janin. His legs were blown off in the blast, according to the radio report. Police detained an Israeli woman, a recent Russian immigrant, for questioning in the blast. The suspect had spent the night at her home, police said.

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