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Friday, 18 January, 2002, 00:04 GMT
Seven killed in attack in Israel
Attacked Wedding Hall in Hadera
The hall was full of guests at a Bat Mitzvah
Seven people have been killed and more than 30 injured after a man attacked a reception hall in the northern Israeli town of Hadera.

Initial Israeli reports said that a man entered the Armon David banquet hall and opened fire on hundreds of guests attending a teenage girl's Bat Mitzvah celebrations.

Israeli army radio said the attacker was a Palestinian suicide bomber who tried to detonate explosives attached to his body at the entrance to the hall, but was overtaken by security guards.

The attacker then threw a hand grenade into the crowd, the radio reported.

The attacker was later shot dead by Israeli police.

Israel's government immediately blamed the attack on the Palestinian Authority and said its leader Yasser Arafat had "chosen the path of terrorism".

Israeli government spokesman Avi Pazner said: "We hold the Palestinian Authority and (Palestinian President Yasser) Arafat directly responsible for the deaths of those who died today in this horrible terrorist attack".

"We are going to respond in a manner which will teach the Palestinian Authority a lesson they will not forget," he said.

The United States condemned the killing as a "horrific act of terrorism" and told Mr Arafat to act against militants.

"Chairman Arafat must take immediate action against those responsible for these acts and confront the infrastructure that perpetuates terror and violence," deputy State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said.

Forensic scientists
Forensic scientists collected evidence after the attack
An emergency services official said that dozens of people have been injured in the attack, some of them seriously.

The attacker was apparently gunned down by police from a nearby police station. It is not yet known whether he was acting alone.

The attack comes after a number of militant Palestinian groups announced they are no longer obeying a ceasefire ordered by Mr Arafat last month.

The militant Palestinian group the al-Aqsa Brigade, an armed group associated with Mr Arafat's Fatah organisation, said the attack was carried out by Fatah member Abed al Salem Tsadek Hasson, from the West Bank town of Nablus.

The Al Aqsa Brigades said the attack was in revenge for the killing of Fatah member Raed Karmi on Monday.

Raed Karmi died when a device exploded outside his home in the Palestinian-ruled town of Tulkarm, a killing which prompted Al-Aqsa to say it was calling off its ceasefire.

Thursday night's attack was close to a bus stop where four Israeli women were shot dead by two Palestinian police officers on 28 October, 2001.

The BBC's James Reynolds reports from Jerusalem
"Just as guests were leaving the hall, the attack began"
Israeli government spokesman Arie Mekel
"We are determined to protect our citizens"
See also:

03 Jan 02 | Middle East
Tough times for US Mideast envoy
14 Jan 02 | Middle East
Leading Palestinian killed in blast
10 Jan 02 | Middle East
Palestinian militants abandon truce
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