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Thursday, 2 May, 2002, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Blast targets British Council in Gaza
Palestinian police at British Council in Gaza City
Palestinian police sealed off the British Council building
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By Kylie Morris
BBC correspondent in Gaza

There was an explosion late on Wednesday at the offices of the British Council in the Gaza Strip.

The sound of the blast, before midnight, reverberated around the quiet neighbourhood of Gaza City where the British Council is based.

There were no injuries. The building was empty, and the explosion damaged only an adjunct to the main building, which houses the council cafe.

Militants claiming to represent the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian or PFLP, told local media they had set off the explosion to serve as a warning to Britain over its involvement in the jailing of their leader, Ahmed Sa'adat.

Anger at Britain

He and five others were transferred late on Wednesday to a jail in Jericho, where they will be guarded by British personnel under a deal supported by the United States and negotiated by British and American diplomats.

Until the deal was struck, they had been held inside Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah, and their presence was seen as a barrier to loosening restrictions on the Palestinian leader's movements.

Four of the men were considered by Israel and had been convicted in a Palestinian security court of being directly involved in the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi.

At least one political leader of the PFLP in Gaza said he did not think the group would be involved in such an attack, but added that there is anger at Britain's involvement in the arrangement to imprison the militants.

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