Jerusalem, March 5 (Reuters): A suspected Palestinian bombing tore apart an Israeli bus in the port city of Haifa today, killing at least eight people and wounding dozens, Israeli police and emergency services said.
The explosion tore the roof off the bus and turned the vehicle into a charred wreck.
The blast hurled bodies out onto a main street at the entrance to the Carmeliya neighbourhood in Israel’s third largest city.
The blast came after a two-month lull in Palestinian suicide attacks waged as part of a 29-month-old uprising against Israeli occupation.
The last bombing was on January 5 in Tel Aviv, when 23 people were killed in a bus station and pedestrian mall.
“I saw people dying, being burned to death,” one distraught witness told Channel One television.
A huge column of smoke rose from the wreckage. “It’s terrible what you can see here,” said an Israel Radio reporter, Eran Zinger.
The explosion dealt another blow to US hopes of calm in the region as it prepares for a possible war in Iraq.
“Eight people were killed,” one police source said. Another said the death toll could rise because there were more body parts at the scene.
Earlier today, Israeli troops arrested 20 Palestinians throughout the West Bank and demolished the home of an Islamic militant in a continued security clampdown.
The fresh sweep followed a day of clashes in which three Palestinians were killed. Israel drew criticism from the US and Britain over Palestinian civilian casualties.
The army said soldiers arrested 20 Palestinians, most of them wanted by security forces for alleged violence.