Page last updated at 13:40 GMT, Thursday, 5 March 2009

New digger attack in Jerusalem


Footage of the scene shortly after the incident took place

The driver of a construction vehicle in West Jerusalem has been shot dead by police after he rammed a police car.

Israeli police say they are treating it as a terrorist attack. It echoes two such incidents in July 2008 involving Palestinian construction workers.

Witnesses described the front-end loader speeding along a West Jerusalem road dragging the police car.

Tensions are currently very high between Israelis and Palestinians after Israel's military offensive in Gaza.

A taxi driver told Israeli radio: "I saw the police car fly into the air. He flipped it over twice, then continued dragging it toward a bus that was stuck in traffic."

He said he had fired four shots at the driver, "then a policeman came with his M-16 [automatic rifle] and finished him off".

The driver was taken to hospital by ambulance and was declared dead on arrival.

The incident happened in Malha on the main Begin Highway which connects north and south Jerusalem.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The attacker was later identified as 26-year-old Mari al-Rdaidah from East Jerusalem.

Earlier attacks

In July last year, a Palestinian killed three Israelis and wounded 45 more when he rammed the front-end loader he was driving into buses and cars in Jaffa Street, before being shot dead.

Three weeks later 16 people were wounded in a similar incident, and the attacker also killed.

In September, a Palestinian driver rammed his car into a crowd of Israeli soldiers, wounding 19 people. He too was shot dead, although relatives denied it had been a deliberate attack.

Suicide bomb attacks in Jerusalem by militants from the West Bank have been greatly reduced after reaching a peak in the early 2000s.

Recent attacks appear to have been launched mostly by individuals from mainly-Arab East Jerusalem.

Earlier on Thursday Israeli warplanes bombed the Gaza Strip, killing two militants, bringing to four the number killed by Israel in less than 24 hours.

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