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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 January 2006, 16:28 GMT
Suicide bomb attack in Tel Aviv
Police inspect the scene of the explosion
The force of the blast blew out windows and damaged parked cars
About 15 people have been injured in a suicide bomb attack at a pedestrian shopping centre in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv, police there say.

The bomber, the only person killed in the explosion, is said to have blown himself up next to a food stall near the city's old bus station.

It is the first bomb attack in Tel Aviv since February last year.

The military wing of the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad said one of its members was behind the attack.

A spokesman for the al-Quds Brigades named the bomber as 22-year-old Sami Abd al-Hafiz Antar, from the West Bank town of Nablus.

'Brutal attack'

A senior official in the Israeli foreign ministry said the attack highlighted the consequences of the Palestinian government's failure to disarm militant groups.

"This brutal attack proves once again that the Palestinian Authority is failing to fulfil its obligations," Gideon Meir said.

"Allowing these terrorist organisations to exist is an existential threat to the Palestinian Authority."

19 Jan: 15 injured, Tel Aviv
5 Dec 2005: Five die, Netanya
26 Oct: Six die, Hadera market
28 Aug: 20 hurt, Beersheba
12 July: Two die, Netanya
25 Feb: Five die, 50 hurt, outside Tel Aviv nightclub

The US government condemned the attack.

"It has wounded tens of innocent civilians. We call upon the Palestinian Authority again to do everything it can to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

The Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, said the bombing was meant to derail the Palestinian legislative elections on Wednesday, which Islamic Jihad is boycotting.

"This is sabotage and aimed at sabotaging the elections, not only the elections, but also the security of Palestinians," he told reporters in Ramallah.

"The culprits must be punished."

'Swayed strangely'

The attack took place at about 1530 (1330 GMT) on Solomon Street in Tel Aviv's commercial district.


The bomber, who pretended to be selling razors, walked into The Mayor's Shwarma wearing a black coat and cap, one witness said.

"The guy was standing at the corner of the street, looking like he was waiting for someone," Yehiel Ohana told the Associated Press news agency.

"He swayed strangely. Then he went into the shwarma stand, and two to three seconds later, we heard the explosion. Everything shuddered," he said.

"We entered the shwarma stand, and we saw him lying on the floor, and then we understood he was a suicide bomber."

The force of the blast blew out windows and damaged parked cars.

Ambulance workers at the scene said one of those injured in the blast was seriously hurt.

It was the first suicide attack in Israel since 5 December, when five Israelis were killed by a suicide bomber outside a shopping centre in Netanya.

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