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The BBC's Paul Adams in Jerusalem
"An angry crowd has gathered at the scene"
 real 28k

Israeli government spokesman Nachman Shai
"We need to find out exactly who is responsible"
 real 56k

Adviser to Yasser Arafat, Marwan Kanafani
"The Israelis have their fingers ready to point at Yasser Arafat"
 real 56k

Thursday, 2 November, 2000, 15:26 GMT
Bomb kills two in Jerusalem
Police at the site of the Jerusalem bomb blast
Police sift for clues after blast rips through heart of Jerusalem
Two people have been killed in a powerful car bomb explosion in west Jerusalem, the mainly Jewish part of the city.

The explosion happened shortly after 1500 local time (1300GMT) near the Mahane Yehuda outdoor market, which has been the target of suicide bomb attacks in the past.

The responsibility here lies with the Palestinian Authority which released Hamas activists

Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Ephraim Sneh
"Apparently it is a car bomb that blew up...two people were killed. The car is ablaze and vehicles damaged," a police spokesman is reported as saying.

The explosion comes only hours after the Israelis and Palestinians said they and reached an understanding to end weeks of bloodshed.

The head of the Jerusalem police, Yair Yitzhaki, said on Israeli television that one of the dead was Jewish. There is no information about the other fatality.

We don't know anything about it

Marwan Kanafani
Israeli Deputy Defence Minister Ephraim Sneh said Israel held the Palestinian Authority responsible for the bomb.

"The responsibility here lies with the Palestinian Authority which released Hamas activists," Mr Sneh told public television.

A senior Palestinian negotiator, Marwan Kanafani, rejected Mr Sneh's accusations.

"We have no clue [about who planted the bomb]. We don't know anything about it," Mr Kanafani told the BBC.

No group has yet admitted carrying out the attack.

Truce hopes dashed

Black plumes of smoke are rising over the area.

Police say at least 10 people are injured and a large number of ambulances are at the scene.

The blast happened shortly before Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat were due to make separate announcements of moves towards a ceasefire agreed at talks on Wednesday between Mr Arafat and the former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres.

And earlier on Thursday, both sides had begun implementing measures to decrease tension.

Israel started pulling its tanks back from some Palestinian areas and Palestinian policemen were seen breaking up some demonstrations.

But the BBC's Hilary Andersson in Jerusalem says the timing of the bomb blast is extremely significant and devastating given the ceasefire announcement Mr Barak and Mr Arafat were due to make.

Medical staff at the scene of the Jerusalem bomb
Medics were soon on the scene

Not long before the blast the Islamic militant group Hamas had rejected the truce and called for an escalation of the Palestinian demonstrations against Israel, saying it wanted revenge for the Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers.

The car bomb attack in Jerusalem comes after one of the worst days of violence since the unrest began in late September.

More than 170 people have died in five weeks of violence - the vast majority of them Arabs.

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See also:

02 Nov 00 | Middle East
Analysis: Peace in jeopardy
02 Nov 00 | Middle East
In pictures: The Jerusalem bombing
02 Nov 00 | Middle East
Hi-tech outlets for Arab anger
02 Nov 00 | Middle East
Q&A: Crisis in the Middle East
28 Sep 00 | Middle East
Holy Jerusalem: The key to peace
02 Nov 00 | Middle East
The Israeli army's dilemma
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