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The BBC's Fergus Nicol
"The teenages were killed at a petrol station known as 'the meeting place of peace'"
 real 56k

Lt. Col. Olivier Rasowicz of Israel Defence Force
"The Palestinians have decided to launch a wave of terror"
 real 56k

Hamas' political wing spokesman, Ibraheem Ghosha
"It is not terrorism, it is legal resistance"
 real 56k

The BBC's Hilary Andersson in Jerusalem
"Hamas say... seven more suicide bombers are ready to go"
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Wednesday, 28 March, 2001, 10:36 GMT 11:36 UK
Blast kills three in Israel
Victim of the bomb blast
Medics carry one of the victims away
A powerful bomb on the border between Israel and the West Bank has left at least three people dead and several critically injured.

The Islamic militant group, Hamas, said one of its suicide bombers had detonated the bomb which went off close to a group of Israeli teenagers waiting for a bus near the central Israeli town of Kfar Saba.

We will not allow Yasser Arafat to provoke us into acting against our own interests

Israeli Public Security Minister Uzi Landau
The explosion at 0745 local time (0545GMT) follows two bombings in Jerusalem on Tuesday in which 30 people were injured and one of the bombers killed.

Reports of the latest incident came as the American ambassador to the United Nations vetoed moves in the Security Council to establish an international observer force to help protect Palestinians.

Nail bomb

Reports say the bomber walked up to the youths as they waited for the school bus by a petrol station near the "green line" which separates Israel from the West Bank.

Map of Israel

Three youngsters, aged between 12 and 15, are reported to be in critical condition, wounded by nails in the bomb.

The armoured bus was due to take them to a religious school in a settlement in the West Bank.

Police said other bombs had been defused earlier on Wednesday near a market in the coastal town of Netanya and in the central city of Petah Tikva.

Hamas said the bombing represented the "continuation of the Palestinian resistance against the Israeli occupation".

"There are still seven martyrs ready to strike and we have more," it warned.

Sharon under pressure

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has called a special security cabinet meeting for Wednesday afternoon in response to the latest attack.

Mr Sharon is under mounting pressure to put stop the Palestinian attacks, having been elected in February on a promise to provide security and take a hard line stance against the Palestinians.

Ambulance at the scene
Emergency services rushed to the scene

But the BBC's Jeremy Cooke in Jerusalem says Mr Sharon may be reluctant to order immediate military action, as it could lead to further tensions and bring more condemnation from Arab leaders attending a summit in Jordan.

Israeli police say they are tightening security "in a massive way" in cities across the country.

Regional police commander Yehuda Bachar told Israeli radio they had already raised security along the border.

Public Security Minister Uzi Landau hinted no military action would be taken until after the summit, which ends on Wednesday.

"Israel will go on the offensive in the coming days against the terror which will probably last weeks or months," he told Israeli radio.

"Everyday or every other day the Palestinian Authority will pay a political price. We will not allow [Palestinian leader] Yasser Arafat to provoke us into acting against our own interests.

Reports from the West Bank town of Jenin say a 60-year-old Palestinian woman died of asphyxiation on Wednesday after Israeli soldiers fired tear gas at her house.

More than 400 people have been killed since the uprising began, nearly 350 of them Palestinian, including dozens of children. More than 60 Israelis and 13 Israeli Arabs have died.

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See also:

28 Mar 01 | Middle East
Day of violence in Mid-East
28 Mar 01 | Middle East
Militants 'testing Israel'
27 Mar 01 | Middle East
Assad and Arafat 'forget' past enmity
27 Mar 01 | Middle East
Israeli mistrust grows
19 Oct 00 | Middle East
Who are Hamas?
27 Mar 01 | Middle East
Israel's history of bomb blasts
28 Mar 01 | Middle East
First test for Sharon
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