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Friday, 22 March, 2002, 21:46 GMT
West Bank blast mars truce talks
Israeli soldier guards suspects at a West Bank checkpoint
Tension is high at West Bank checkpoints
A Palestinian suicide bomber has blown himself up at an Israeli army checkpoint in the West Bank.

Israeli military sources said the bomber died and an army officer was injured in the attack at Salem, on the border between Israel and the West Bank.

The bombing - the third in as many days - came as Israeli and Palestinian security officials resumed truce talks in Tel Aviv.

The meeting, which had been postponed at Israel's request following a Palestinian suicide attack in Jerusalem on Thursday, ended without agreement.

Both sides said they would hold more talks on Sunday.

In separate violence, a Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli troops in Gaza while trying to break through a fence on the border with Israel, the Israeli army said.

US frustration

Israeli military sources said the West Bank bomber was trying to enter Israel but blew himself up after soldiers at the checkpoint asked him to lift his shirt during a search.

Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades - an offshoot of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction - said it carried out the bombing, hours after Mr Arafat vowed to "put an end" to such attacks.

After the attack, the United States said Mr Arafat had not yet met conditions for a meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney.

Israeli officer Erez Batat, who was injured in the Salem bombing
The checkpoint bombing was the third suicide attack in three days
The blast happened as Israelis and Palestinians met US peace envoy Anthony Zinni for the third time this week to try to find a way to implement a US-brokered truce plan.

Israeli defense ministry spokesman Yarden Vatikai said Israel raised "what is demanded of the Palestinians in order to stop this awful terror".

The Palestinians said they complained to Mr Zinni about Israeli incursions into Palestinian territory.

A BBC correspondent in Jerusalem says neither side wants to be blamed for undermining Mr Zinni's peace mission.

Earlier, Mr Zinni visited the Palestinian leader at his headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah to express America's frustration at what it sees as Mr Arafat's failure to rein in militants.

The BBC's Orla Guerin in Jerusalem
"Israel has been doing everything right this week"
Palestinian legislator Dr Hanan Ashrawi
"There is a fatal flaw in the way that Americans address the issue"
See also:

21 Mar 02 | Middle East
Mid-East talks end without truce
21 Mar 02 | Media reports
Zinni fails to impress Mid-East media
20 Mar 02 | Middle East
Cheney offers olive branch to Arafat
16 Mar 02 | Middle East
Israel's stay-at-home culture
16 Feb 02 | Middle East
Israel's history of bomb blasts
05 Mar 02 | Middle East
Profile: Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade
02 Dec 01 | profiles
Who are the suicide bombers?
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