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Palestinian gunmen kill 3 Israeli soldiers

Female bomber kills 2 policemen in Jerusalem


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Rescue workers tend to a victim of Wednesday's suicide bombing.
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A female suicide bomber kills two people in Jerusalem.
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JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Two armed Palestinians infiltrated an Israeli military outpost near the Jewish settlement of Morag in southern Gaza on Thursday morning, killing three Israeli soldiers and wounding another, according to Israeli military sources.

Israeli soldiers shot and killed the Palestinians, the sources said.

The attack comes after a female suicide bomber killed two Israeli border policemen and herself near a bus stop in the French Hill section of Jerusalem. The police tried to prevent her from carrying out the attack.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militant offshoot of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the suicide attack. The brigades said it was in retaliation the killing of Al Aqsa members last week in the West Bank town of Jenin.

The U.S. State Department considers Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades to be a terrorist group.

A border policeman spotted and stopped the bomber as she approached a checkpoint near a line of buses in Jerusalem's French Hill neighborhood, said police spokesman Gil Kleiman.

A witness told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that a border policeman demanded the woman undergo a body search. When a second officer arrived, the witness said, the woman set off her explosives.

One of the border policemen was killed immediately. The second died later of wounds.

Emergency services said at least one other person was seriously wounded. One person was moderately wounded, and 10 others sustained lesser wounds.

Police said the bomb weighed between six and 11 pounds and was wrapped with shrapnel.

Police said scores of people were lining up to board buses and the attack would have been much worse had the bomber not been stopped. About 20 buses use that stop, Kleiman said.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon acknowledged that a larger tragedy was narrowly averted.

"In many cases, we prevented serious disasters," Sharon said. "Sometimes things happen like what happened today. But we intend to continue the struggle against terror with all force."

Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, attending the U.N. General Assembly in New York, said that the attack shows "the Palestinians wouldn't like to abandon this tool of terrorism against us, and I think the world should be united in its combat against terrorism because the world realizes it's global terrorism, it's not a problem of Israel anymore. Terrorism can hit anyone and everywhere."

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat condemned the attack, saying the Palestinians oppose all violence aimed at civilians.

The French Hill area is near the line that divides the predominantly Arab East Jerusalem and mostly Jewish West Jerusalem. Wednesday's bombing was the fifth attack in the neighborhood in four years.

It was the first suicide bombing since August 31, when two bombers set off almost simultaneous explosions on buses in the southern city of Beer Sheva.

Sixteen people were killed and 93 others wounded in those attacks. Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization Hamas claimed responsibility.

The military wing of Hamas has a history of carrying out attacks against Israeli civilians and military. Israel and the U.S. State Department consider it to be a terrorist organization.


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