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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 May, 2003, 00:54 GMT 01:54 UK
Suicide bomber 'was British'
The scene of the blast
The seafront area is a popular nightspot

Israeli authorities say the suicide bomber who killed three people in an explosion at a Tel Aviv cafe on Tuesday held British nationality.

They believe he was accompanied by a second British citizen, who also planned to carry out an attack, but who fled the scene.

More than 50 people were injured in the suicide bombing at a beachside bar called Mike's Place.

Israeli television has shown passports alleged to belong to the two men, which name them as Asif Muhammad Hanif and Omar Khan Sharif.

The Israeli prime minister's office released a statement on Wednesday evening saying Mr Hanif had been the suicide bomber, and that Mr Sharif had fled the scene after failing to detonate a second explosive device.

British co-operation

Foreign Office minister Mike O'Brien told BBC Two's Newsnight programme the British Government would co-operate fully with the Israelis to establish who the bombers were.

"The Israelis are in consultation with us at the moment about getting some information and I understand the Home Office will do all it can to enable the Israelis to identify who these individuals were, if indeed they are British subjects.

"They certainly were carrying, it appears, British passports, therefore we need to help them get the one that's escaped and identify the other one," he said.

Israeli television has shown passports alleged to belong to the two men
The alleged passports suggest Mr Sharif (left) is from Derby

A UK Foreign Office spokesman said the UK was in close contact with the Israeli Government on security matters, condemned all terrorist attacks and would give the Israelis any assistance requested.

The blast came just hours after new Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas won approval for his cabinet and vowed to crack down on militants.

Israel said the suicide attack represented a "complete failure" in security for the new administration.

The BBC's James Reynolds in Jerusalem said the bombing followed a familiar pattern of attacks coinciding with apparent diplomatic advances towards peace.

But the Tel Aviv explosion did not delay the publication of a peace "roadmap" by international mediators.

The plan for peace in the Middle East was presented to Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Wednesday.

Jack Straw and Tony Blair
There is now a real opportunity for both sides... to achieve a just and lasting settlement
UK Prime Minister Tony Blair

Mr Abbas was sworn in as prime minister just hours after the suicide attack, in a ceremony at the West Bank headquarters of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

Saeb Erekat, a member of Mr Abbas' new cabinet, condemned the attack but said the new government was "committed to its security obligations".

"The only way to stop... this cycle of violence is by reviving a meaningful peace process," he added.

The bombing happened at about 0100 local time (2200 GMT), in a seafront area which is usually very busy at night.

Police said the suicide bomber, who is among the dead, detonated the bomb at the cafe entrance, after failing to get past a security guard.

The front of the cafe was ripped apart by the blast and there was splintered wood and glass everywhere.

The cafe is near the US embassy and reports say those inside included Americans, Britons and French.

Police said most of the injured were young people.

The cafe, Mike's Place, is a popular European-style bar, with some tables outside.




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The BBC's Jeremy Cooke
"The authorities are convinced that the bombers were British"



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