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GUNMEN BURST IN AND KILL 8 AT RABBI SCHOOL; 35 wounded in terror attack.

Byline: By ALLISON MARTIN

EIGHT people were killed last night when two Palestinian gunmen walked into a Jewish religious school in Jerusalem and opened fire "in all directions".

Up to 35 were wounded as the men sprayed automatic fire around the library, crowded with about 80 high school age youngsters.

The gunmen were killed in a shootout after hundreds of police, including special forces officers, surrounded the five-storey building.

One student claimed he grabbed a rifle and shot one of them dead.

Yitzhak Dadon said he waited on the roof of a nearby building and "he came out of the library spraying automatic fire ... the terrorist came to the entrance and I shot him twice in the head".

Police spokesman Shmuel Ben Ruby said: "One or two terrorists infiltrated the Mercaz Harav seminary and opened fire in all directions."

Israeli TV said there may have been a third attacker who escaped.

Students were evacuated and 50 ambulances sped to the scene as the shootout continued.

Medic Yaron Tzuker said: "They were still shooting when we got here. We took cover and the ambulance was hit. It's horrible inside, bodies and wounded - it's horrific."

Police held back worried parents seeking children at a study session marking the start of Adar, the most festive month of the Jewish calendar.

A woman who lives across the street told a radio station: "There was a lot of gunfire and hysteria."

Another witness said: "I saw police and ordinary civilians, who were armed, trading gunfire with the men. The battle went on for about 10 minutes."

An hour later medics began removing the bodies of the dead in ambulances.

A crowd outside shouted: "Death to the Arabs." The school is in an area known as centre of Jewish studies and linked to the leadership of the settlement movement in the Palestinian West Bank.

In the Gaza Strip gunmen fired in the air to celebrate the attack, three days after Israel ended a military offensive that killed more than 120 Palestinians, half of them civilians.

A loudspeaker in a Gaza City mosque blared: "This is God's vengeance."

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas official, said the group "blesses the heroic operation which was a natural reaction to the Zionist massacre".

The attack came a day after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice persuaded moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to return to peace talks with Israel. Earlier a bomb killed an Israeli soldier and Sderot was hit by rockets fired from Gaza.

WORST SINCE 2006

The shooting is the worst attack in Jerusalem since 2006. Between 2001 and 2004 there were repeated suicide bomb attacks.

mirrornews@mgn.co.uk

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CARNAGE Medics evacuate victim from horror in Jerusalem Picture: AP/KEVIN FRAYER
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 7, 2008
Words:455
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