Three 'seriously hurt' in bomb blast

Thursday, March 01, 2001
Three seriously injured people are among ten hurt when an explosion went off in a taxi van as it crossed an intersection in northern Israel.

Witnesses said police were conducting security checks in the area at the time, and that the blast went off just as officers were approaching the van. Soldiers treated some of the wounded immediately after the explosion.

The blast happened about two miles from the Israeli Arab town of Umm el-Fahem. Police had been chasing the vehicle for 35 miles after a tip-off when the explosion happened.

Israel radio reports said that most of the people injured were in the van and that their identities were not immediately known.

One un-named witness told the radio: "At some stage, a police van passed us and blocked traffic, and they began checking each car.

"They started checking the van ... Suddenly, I heard an explosion. I fell to the ground, and I fled. The back of the van blew up."

Witness Ilan Zvuluni said he was a few carlengths behind the van. "I saw wounded people lying on road, a boy among them," he said.

In recent weeks, Israel has been on heightened alert for bomb attacks by Islamic militants. On Wednesday, Tel Aviv police safely detonated a bomb that had more than four pounds of explosives after it was spotted in an abandoned plastic bag.

During the past five months, Palestinian militants have set off several car bombs inside Israel, killing several people and wounding dozens.

Overall, 411 people have been killed in that time, including 339 Palestinians, 57 Israelis and 15 others.