Homicide Bus Blast Kills at Least Eight in Israel
Wednesday, March 05, 2003        Fox-News
 HAIFA, Israel A homicide bomber blew himself up aboard a crowded bus in this northern Israeli city Wednesday afternoon, killing at least eight people and wounding dozens of others.
     Massacre: Homicide Bomber Slaughter
Television images showed bodies and wreckage strewn across the street after the blast.

"The scenes are horrific here, twisted metal, it is very difficult to look at," a witness told Israel Radio, according to the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz.

It was the first terror attack in Israel in two months.

The blast ripped the roof off the No. 37 bus, strewing twisted steel and body parts across the street. Witnesses said the explosion occurred just after the bus stopped in the hilltop neighborhood of Carmelia at 2:17 p.m.

Officials said that because of the hour, the bus would have been packed with students from the University of Haifa.

There was no immediate reaction from Israel or the Palestinian Authority.

"This is a terror attack," said Haifa police chief Yaacov Borovsky. "We are talking about suicide bomber."

Some Israeli media reports put the death toll as high as 11. "There are dozens of casualties, among them seriously injured," Avi Zohar, a rescues services spokesman, told Israeli television. At least two dozen were injured.

"I suddenly heard a huge explosion and all the lights in my beauty parlor broke," said beautician Ronen Levy. "I am still in shock."

The roof of the bus was destroyed and a fire left the bus a skeleton of charred and twisted metal.

It was the first terror attack in Israel since Jan. 5, when a pair of suicide bombers killed 23 people in Tel Aviv. In the past, such attacks have brought on tough Israeli military responses.

Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a spokesman for the Hamas terror group, praised the attack but did not claim responsibility. "We will not stop our resistance," he said. "We are not going to give up in the face of the daily killing" of Palestinians.

The attack comes days after the establishment of a new, right-wing government in Israel. Some of the key Cabinet ministers have in the past called for the expulsion of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, whom Israel accuses of sponsoring terror attacks.

It also coincides with a two-week-old Israeli military offensive against Hamas strongholds in the Gaza Strip in which dozens of Palestinians have been killed, including some civilians.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.