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The BBC's Jeremy Cooke in Jerusalem
"We do not know the identity of the people injured"
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The BBC's Orla Guerin
"Palestinian militants have promised to keep up their attacks"
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Thursday, 1 March, 2001, 20:06 GMT
Taxi blast shocks Israel
Soldiers in front of wrecked taxi
The explosives were detonated at a checkpoint
Israeli security forces are on a heightened state of alert after an explosion in a taxi killed a man and injured five other people.

The explosives were detonated inside the minibus at a checkpoint near the Arab town of of Umm el-Fahem in northern Israel.

Arrest of suspected bomber
One of the suspects is reported to have confessed to planting other devices
The man who died was an Israeli. Paramedics say three of the injured are in a serious condition.

Police had been chasing the taxi from Tel Aviv, where one or more of the militants are believed to have boarded the vehicle carrying the explosives.

The security services are now searching for a bomb in Tel Aviv after one of the suspects, who was seriously injured in the explosion, is reported to have confessed to planting other devices.

Israeli police believe the attack may be linked to a failed bomb attempt in Tel Aviv on Wednesday, where they found a suitcase bomb and carried out a controlled explosion.

A Palestinian militant group calling itself the Battalions of Return has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in retaliation for Israeli shelling of Palestinian villages.

Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Ephraim Sneh said Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was to blame, for refusing to act against militant groups.

"As long as activists of Hamas and the Jihad are walking around free in the West Bank and Gaza, the responsibility is of those who let them walk around freely," he said.

"We see the Palestinian Authority as responsible for the situation."

The explosion comes after more than five months of violence between Palestinians and Israelis, in which more than 300 Palestinians and more than 60 Israelis have died.

BBC correspondent Orla Guerin says the bloodshed will add to the tension in Israel as the country waits anxiously for the formation of a new coalition government led by Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon, who has promised greater security.

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See also:

28 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Islamic militant groups face ban
08 Dec 00 | Middle East
Intifada: Then and now
14 Feb 01 | Middle East
Analysis: Israel's security crisis
01 Mar 01 | Middle East
Israel's history of bomb blasts
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