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3 killed in blast near Israeli Army checkpoint

blast scene
The scene of Wednesday's bomb blast  

QALQILYA, Israel -- Three people are dead and four are injured after a suicide bombing near an Israeli Army checkpoint in Central Israel.

One of the dead is presumed by police to be the bomber while the other two are said to be teenage students who were waiting at the bus stop near a gas station on the road to the checkpoint.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has convened his inner security cabinet for Wednesday afternoon to discuss a response to the latest violence.

The bombing coincides with an Arab summit in Jordan where Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is seeking political and economic support.

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CNN's Rula Amin on the Arab Summit and the role Ariel Sharon might play in the peace process

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Views of the blast wreckage, from CNN's Jerrold Kessel, who also hears from an Israeli official

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Raanan Gissin, Snr. Sharon Aide: The Palestinian Authority is responsible for the attacks and will pay for it

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CNN's Jerold Kessel: Israel to curb what it calls Palestinian terrorism

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The incident came the day after two bombings less than six hours apart rocked Jerusalem, killing one -- believed to be a suicide bomber -- and wounding at least 27.

The latest blast happened at approximately 7:30 a.m. local (0530 GMT) about 1/2 mile from the so-called "green line" border between Israel and the West Bank.

Earlier Wednesday Israeli authorities found a bomb in the coastal city of Netanya and carried out a controlled detonation. Later Israeli security forces carried out a second controlled explosion of a bomb in Petah Tikva, near Tel Aviv.

CNN's Jerrold Kessel said the "young" bomber had mingled with a group of teenage students waiting for a bus in the parking lot of a petrol station before detonating Wednesday's bomb.

The petrol station was called the "Meeting Place of Peace," near the village of Sdeh Hemet, close to the West Bank.

From there, the youngsters planned to board an armoured bus for a ride to their school in Kedumim, a Jewish settlement in the West Bank.

The military wing of the Islamic fundamentalist group Hamas claimed responsibility for Wednesday's bomb and one on Tuesday, and said seven more suicide bombers were ready to strike, Reuters reported.

"We in Izz el-Din al-Qassam brigade-Hamas, announce our full responsibility for the operation this morning at the crossroads of Qalqilia, Kfar Saba. The elite unit 103 returned to base safely after moving the martyr to the place of the operation.

"We also take responsibility for yesterday's operation at the French Hill north of Jerusalem," said a caller by telephone to Reuters.

"There are still seven martyrs ready to strike and we have more."

A senior aide to Sharon, Raanan Gissin, told CNN that it was "very important to have patience, self-restraint and cool-headedness" as the government had a policy to deal with what he called terrorism.

He reiterated Sharon's assertion that the Palestinian Authority and Arafat were responsible for the violence, saying the "terrorists" and those who support them would pay the price.

In a separate incident Tuesday, the Palestinian Red Crescent said a Palestinian boy between 10 and 12 was shot in the chest and killed in the village of Dura near Hebron.

It was not immediately known who fired the shot.

The boy's death came a day after a 10-month-old Israeli girl was killed in Hebron.

The explosions rattled Israelis, who demanded that Sharon do more to protect them against attacks by Palestinians.

"We have a war here," said Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert.

Palestinian hopes of support from the United Nations were dashed on Tuesday when the U.S. vetoed a Security Council resolution on creating an international observer force to protect civilians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Before the latest deaths, Sharon blamed the bombing attacks on Arafat, charging that "most of the terror attacks are done by forces under (his) command."

Sharon said he knows how to deal with the violence. "I will take care of it" at the right time, he said.

"I suggest that you be patient, and you will see what happens."

In six months of fighting, more than 435 people have been killed, including 358 Palestinians and 60 Israeli Jews.

A previously unknown Palestinian group, calling itself the Popular Army Front, claimed responsibility for the blast.

Late on Tuesday, an Israeli woman was seriously injured when Palestinians threw rocks at her car in the West Bank, the military said.

In Hebron, Israeli troops maintained a tight curfew on Palestinians in the centre of the city on Tuesday, keeping 30,000 residents inside their homes.



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Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Palestinian National Authority
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