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Tel Aviv blast kills 1, wounds 20

A woman is rushed from the scene of the bomb attack.
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Blast at Israeli bus stop leaves one person dead and more than 20 others wounded.
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Tel Aviv (Israel)

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- An explosion at a Tel Aviv bus stop Sunday has killed one woman and wounded more than 20 other people, according to Tel Aviv police and Israeli emergency services.

Four of the injured are in serious condition.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a military offshoot of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Palestinian security sources.

In the past, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades has attacked military and civilian targets in Israel, and in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. The U.S. State Department considers it a foreign terrorist organization.

Israeli police said the blast was not a suicide attack, but the result of a bomb placed in the bushes near the bus stop, according to Tel Aviv police spokeswoman Shlomit Hertzberg.

The woman who died, identified as 19-year-old Sgt. Ma'ayan Naiim, had initially been transported to a hospital with critical injuries, Hertzberg said. Several passengers were wounded when the force of the blast shattered the bus's windows.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in Bangkok, Thailand, for the World AIDS Conference, condemned the attack and sent his "sincere sympathy to Israel and the families of the victims."

"No cause whatsoever can justify terrorism," he said. "In this connection, the Secretary-General urges the Palestinian Authority to do everything possible to end terror."

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon condemned the attack "by criminal Palestinian terrorists" and said it shows the need for Israel's controversial West Bank barrier, recently deemed in violation of international law by the the International Court of Justice. (Barrier 'illegal')

The bomb detonated about 7 a.m. (0500 GMT) as a bus approached the stop during rush hour at the start of the working week, Hertzberg said.

The blast ended a relative calm inside Israel, where terror attacks have been rare in recent months.

According to the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz, the last terror attack in Tel Aviv was in April 2003, when a British Muslim carried out a suicide attack on a beachfront pub, killing three people and wounding dozens.

In January last year, 23 people died in a double suicide attack just meters from the location of Sunday's blast, Haaretz reported.

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