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Dual suicide bombers kill 3 in Tel Aviv

wounded man
A wounded man is evacuated Wednesday from the bombing scene.  

TEL AVIV, Israel (CNN) -- Two suicide bombers blew themselves up at the entrance to a convenience store in southern Tel Aviv Wednesday night, killing at least three civilians and wounding more than 40 people, Israeli police said.

Six of the wounded in the terror attack were seriously injured, hospital sources said.

The bombers clearly planned to blow themselves up in tandem -- "one here and one there with people in the middle," said Israeli police spokesman Gil Kleiman.

The attackers were only about 50 feet apart when they detonated their explosives. Both were killed, Kleiman said.

Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the double bombing. The militant group is dedicated to the creation of an Islamic Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel. It has been designated a terrorist group by the U.S. State Department.

Israeli and Palestinian government officials immediately condemned the attack, both calling for some political way to end the violence. It came a day after an attack on a bus in the West Bank in which eight Israelis were killed. More than 230 Israelis have been killed in terror attacks so far this year.

The Israelis, rocked by a violent ambush on a bus in the West Bank just the day before, placed blame for the attack squarely on the Palestinian Authority.

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The area of Neve Sha'anan is a poorer part of Tel Aviv, home to many immigrant workers. It is filled with nightlife, including cafes, restaurants and busy pedestrian walkways.

Most of the shops were closed due to the Jewish holiday of Tisha B'Av but some remained opened. A movie theater near the explosion employs many Romanian immigrants.

"It was horrible, dead people were everywhere and the injured were screaming. I've never seen such a thing in my life," Dutzu Raduyan told The Associated Press. The shaken witness said he would take his family back to Romania.

Police were searching for other bombs in the area, an Israeli spokesman said.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Danny Shek expressed measured anger at the Palestinian Authority for doing "nothing" to stop the terrorist attacks.

"The Palestinian Authority is in the very least guilty of neglect, of not doing enough against it," he said.

"This is the responsibility of the leadership of the Palestinian people to decide what they want. Do they want a continuous war of terrorism, which eventually is going to bring about the destruction of Palestinian society?" said Ra'anan Gissin, a spokesman for the Israeli government.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat disagreed, saying the Palestinian Authority condemned the blasts and would not accept the blame.

"Whose army and tanks are in the streets of every Palestinian quarter, every Palestinian city, every Palestinian town and village?" Erakat said.

Erakat said 21 Palestinians had been killed in recent weeks. "The only way to break this vicious cycle is resuming a meaningful peace process that would lead to ending the Israeli occupation," he said.

He said the Palestinian Authority and its president, Yasser Arafat, can do everything in their power to stop the suicide bombings, but the effort would only succeed in the "right atmosphere" of negotiations.

In Washington, President Bush offered his "deepest sympathies and condolences" to the families of the killed and wounded.

Israeli police officers shout orders at the scene of the attack.  

"The American people and I condemn these despicable acts of terror," he said. "Peace cannot be built on a platform of violence against innocents."

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters the attack "just reinforces the need for us to get more aggressively involved in security." He said such terrorist attacks only hurt the Palestinian cause, saying, "This is not a way forward."

Powell said he would discuss the region's crisis Thursday during the "Madrid quartet" talks with the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan, and the Saudi Arabian representative to the United Nations.

The "Madrid quartet" is composed of representatives from the United States, United Nations, Russia and the European Union. The talks are aimed at fleshing out the specifics of the Middle East vision President Bush laid out last month.

They will discuss the "three tracks" of the diplomatic effort -- security, humanitarian and political -- the most important of which is security. (Full story)

The attack came just a day after Palestinian gunmen ambushed a bus headed for an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. (Full story)

A roadside bomb was detonated as the bus drove toward Emanuel, near Nablus. Then three gunmen opened fire and threw grenades as people ran out of the bus.

Eight people were killed and 15 others were wounded.

Three Palestinian groups considered terrorist organizations by the United States claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attack. The Palestinian Authority condemned the attack.




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