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Another suicide blast in Israel

Afula (Israel), May 19 (Reuters): A suspected Palestinian suicide bomber struck an Israeli shopping mall today, killing three people and extending a new wave of bloodshed that has battered prospects for a US-backed peace plan.

It was the fifth suicide attack in three days by Palestinian militants sworn to wreck the “road map” peace initiative embraced by a new reform-minded Palestinian leadership but not by Israel's Right-wing government, which objects on security grounds.

In Washington, US President George W. Bush said that despite the latest bombings he would persevere with the plan for a Palestinian state co-existing alongside Israel by 2005.

The bomber appeared to have detonated his explosives when confronted by a woman security guard at the entrance to the shopping centre in the northern town of Afula, witnesses said.

“There is no doubt our methods of security... prevented a far biggest attack,” said regional police chief Yakov Borovsky.

The guard and bomber were among the dead and 17 people were wounded in what witnesses described as a “huge explosion”.

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