Sunday, January 8, 2017

Four Israeli soldiers killed in Jerusalem lorry attack

AFP*Images showed a truck with bullet holes in the windscreen

Four people have been killed in Jerusalem by a Palestinian man who drove a lorry into a group of soldiers, in what police called a terror attack.

Three women and one man, all in their twenties, were killed and 17 others were wounded, police said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the attacker, who was shot dead by soldiers, was a suspected supporter of so-called Islamic State.

But the prime minister gave no evidence to support the claim.

The victims, three army cadets and one officer, were taking part in an educational trip. the Israeli military said.

The attacker, identified as 28-year-old Fadi Qunbar, came from the Palestinian district of Jabel Mukaber in east Jerusalem, near to the attack site.

REUTERS*The attack took place on a popular promenade

CCTV footage showed the truck ploughing at high speed into the soldiers, before reversing over the victims.

"He drove backward to crush more people," eyewitness Leah Schreiber told reporters. "That was really clear."

The attack took place on the popular Armon Hanatziv promenade overlooking the walled Old City of Jerusalem.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said security had been heightened throughout the city in response.

An emergency meeting of the Israeli security cabinet approved administrative detention for IS sympathisers and authorised the destruction of the driver's home as soon as possible.

Mr Netanyahu visited the site on Sunday afternoon, alongside Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman. The pair spoke with rescue workers and security officials.

REUTERS*Israeli soldiers sit in a bus as they wait to leave the scene

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat called on residents not to "let terror win" and said militants would "pay a heavy price".

"There is no limit to the cruelty of the terrorists who are willing to use any means possible to murder Jews and to damage the life routine of Israel's capital," he said.

The US state department condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms" and the European Union also issued a condemnation.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas praised the attacker. Hamas spokesman Abdul-Latif Qanou called it a "heroic" act and encouraged other Palestinians to "escalate the resistance".

AFP*Police said the driver veered off the road into a group of soldiers

Before this latest incident, 35 Israelis had been killed in a wave of knife, gun and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs since October 2015.

More than 200 Palestinians - mostly attackers, Israel says - have also been killed in that period.

Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.

Source: BBC

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