At least 15 dead in twin suicide attacks on Be’er Sheva buses

31/08/2004 Haaretz Service and Agencies At least 15 people were killed and 91 others were wounded Tuesday afternoon in near-simultaneous suicide attacks on two buses in the southern city of Be’er Sheva. Hamas claimed the attacks, the first suicide bombings inside Israel in five months. Five of the wounded were in very serious condition, 10 were seriously wounded and the rest sustained moderate wounds and light injuries. All of the wounded were taken to the Soroka Medical Center in the city. The initial investigation showed that both buses departed from the central bus station in the city, and two suicide bombers – one on each bus – blew themselves up at 2:50 P.M. as one bus was on Rager Boulevard, near Soroka Medical Center, and the other was on a street close to the municipal building. „I heard a blast and I started to run to the site. Within seconds there was another explosion,” said Gil Yehezekel, the owner of a business close to the location of the attack. „When I got there, there were people on the floor, wounded people, limbs torn off,” he said. „The police and ambulances arrived in seconds.” Prime Minister Ariel Sharon vowed in the wake of the attacks that, „the fight against terror will continue with full strength.” Sharon will continue with the plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip and four northern West Bank settlements by next year, his aides said. Following the blasts, the police bolstered the number of officers across the country. There had apparently been no advance warning of an attack. Palestinian Minister Saeb Erekat said, „the Palestinian Authority condemns any attacks that target civilians, whether Israelis or Palestinian.” Palestinian militants haven’t carried out a suicide bombing inside Israel since March 14, when 11 people were killed in the port city of Ashdod. Earlier Tuesday, Israel Defense Forces soldiers caught a Palestinian man carrying an explosives belt as he tried to cross into Israel from the Gaza Strip. Be’er Sheba is 25 miles west of Gaza City.

Emergency numbers: Soroka Medical Center: 12-55-177 Immigrant hotline:12-55-80-1010 Be’er Sheva municipality: 08-646-3777 BPI-info