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Sharon reacts to Jerusalem bombings

Apparent suicide bomber dies, at least 30 wounded


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Violence 'a great error'

Conflicting claims on Jerusalem

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon faced mounting public pressure for retaliation on Tuesday after a pair of bombings in Jerusalem on the heels of the shooting death of a Jewish infant in the West Bank.

More than 30 people were wounded in the twin bombings, one apparently set off by a suicide bomber who died in the attack.

"The bombing today is a continuation (of) bombing by the Palestinians, another terror act, assassinations and murder and shelling and so on," Sharon told reporters.

Sharon emphasized that he held Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat responsible for the attacks.

In Amman, Jordan, where Arab leaders convened a summit and were expected to offer a unified show of support for the Palestinians, Egyptian Foreign Minister Amre Moussa dismissed Israel's complaints.

"The violence doesn't just come from the Palestinians," he said.

Observers considered it unlikely the Israelis would respond to the latest violence while the Arab summit was in session.

Militant Palestinian groups claimed responsibility for both bombings -- Islamic Jihad for the first, a car bomb that went off near a busy shopping center as the morning rush hour got under way, and a previously unknown group for the second, a suicide bomber who detonated explosives attached to his body alongside a bus.

Five people were injured in the first blast and about 30 in the second, less than six hours later. The apparent bomber was killed.

Violence 'a great error'

Sharon said that Arafat bore the responsibility for the violence because he had "not instructed his forces to stop terror."

The former Israeli general pledged "restraint" in his dealings with the Palestinians, but promised "to take care of" the violence in the absence of action from Arafat.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said the violence was "a great error" that could only damage the fragile peace process.

Tuesday's bombings were just a day after sniper fire from a Palestinian neighborhood in the divided West Bank town of Hebron killed a 10-month-old baby in a Jewish enclave.

The Israeli army said that Palestinians had deliberately targeted the little girl, but the Palestinians flatly denied the charge.

In Hebron, angry settlers confronted Israeli soldiers who kept them from entering Palestinian sections of the town.

Conflicting claims on Jerusalem

Nearly 500 people, most of them Palestinians, have been killed since the latest round of Israeli-Palestinian violence began on September 28, after peace talks aimed at ending the five-decade old conflict fell apart during the summer.

Jerusalem, claimed by both the Israelis and Palestinians as a capital, is at the heart of the conflict. The Palestinians want sections of the ancient city they consider occupied by Israelis returned to them, and they want control of a religious shrine sacred to both Jews and Muslims.

Police said that the suicide bomber on Tuesday struck in Jerusalem's French Hill section, a Jewish neighborhood in one of the disputed areas, just after 1 p.m. (1100 GMT).

The Associated Press reported that it received a leaflet claiming responsibility for the second blast from an unknown Palestinian group calling itself the "Popular Army Front."

The first bomb exploded at 7:40 a.m. (0540 GMT) in a car near a busy shopping center in the Talpiot neighborhood.

Jerusalem Bureau Chief Mike Hanna contributed to this report.



RELATED STORIES:
U.N. to resume Mideast talks
March 26, 2001
Israelis order evacuation of Arab district in Hebron
March 26, 2001
Sharon: Arafat blocking peace
March 22, 2001
Mitchell panel tours Gaza
March 21, 2001
Israel closes off Bethlehem after settler dies
March 19, 2001

RELATED SITES:
The Israeli Prime Minister's Office
Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Palestinian National Authority
Israel Defense Force
Israel Defense Forces

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