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One Dead, Nine Hurt Following Bomb Blast In Israel.

By Meredith Buel (VOA-Jerusalem)

Israeli police are searching for more bombs after an explosion in a taxi killed one person and injured at least nine others. The explosion occurred in a minibus serving as a taxi near the Israeli-Arab town of Umm el-Fahem in northern Israel.

Police say a man badly injured in the van confessed to carrying the explosives as well as to planting a bomb that was discovered and detonated safely Wednesday in Tel Aviv. The confession prompted police to search for additional bombs.

Police say they had been following the van involved in Thursday's explosion because they suspected there was a terrorist inside. The vehicle exploded as police were about to inspect it at a roadblock.

Some of the people hurt in the blast were in the taxi at the time of the explosion, and police say most of the passengers were apparently innocent bystanders. Witnesses in cars near the van reported hearing the blast and seeing wounded people lying in the road.

In recent weeks, Israel has been on heightened alert for terrorist attacks. Bombings have increased inside Israel since the outbreak more than five months ago of a Palestinian uprising for independence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. More than 400 people, mostly Palestinians, have been injured in the violence.

Meanwhile, Israel's elder statesman and Nobel Peace laureate Shimon Peres appears certain to become the country's next foreign minister. The development came as Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon continues his efforts to form a coalition government.

The foreign minister job is one of eight cabinet positions promised by Sharon to the Labor party as part of an agreement to form a broad-based unity government. As the deadline expired Thursday for nominations for the Labor party's portfolios, Peres was the sole candidate for foreign minister. Peres helped negotiate Israel's 1993 Oslo peace agreement with the Palestinians. Leaders of the Labor party are expected to meet Friday to formally name cabinet ministers to the new government.

Sharon defeated outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Barak in elections last month. He hopes to take power after presenting his governing coalition to the Israeli parliament next week.

Meanwhile, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan has called for effective leadership in the Middle East to prevent the violence from intensifying.

The Associated Press says Annan also urged the international community to help millions of Palestinians pushed into poverty by five months of violence with the Israelis.

Speaking at a summit of African leaders in Libya, Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat was quoted as saying the violence and the Israeli policy of sealing off Palestinian territories has cost the Palestinian economy more than $3 billion since September.

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Publication:Israel Faxx
Date:Mar 2, 2001
Words:443
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