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5 killed in Tel Aviv suicide bombing

Tel Aviv, Sept. 19 (Reuters): A suspected Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up on a crowded Israeli bus in the heart of Tel Aviv today, killing five people and wounding about 50 in the second suicide attack in two days.

The blast followed an explosion in northern Israel yesterday which killed an Israeli policeman and ended a six-week lull in suicide bombings, raising fears in Israel of a new wave of such attacks and again dimming peace hopes.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which defied calls by President Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority for an end to attacks against Israeli civilians in the two-year-old uprising against occupation.

Ambulances raced to tree-lined Allenby Street where the bus exploded near cafes and restaurants packed during the lunch hour and the main synagogue in Israel's commercial capital.

“I heard a massive blast. I ran outside where customers were eating lunch. I saw people escaping from the bus, jumping out of the windows covered in blood,” said cafe owner Ofer Menachem. “I saw soldiers and women covered in blood shouting and screaming.”

The ground next to the bus was scattered with pools of blood and the belongings of the passengers.

Ambulance crews ferried bleeding passengers, some with their clothes blown off their bodies, to hospitals. Some were badly burnt.

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