JERUSALEM (AP) – Two blasts went off near bus stops in Jerusalem at the height of morning rush hour yesterday, killing one person and injuring at least 18.
The first explosion occurred near a bus stop on the edge of the city, where commuters usually crowd waiting for buses. The second went off about half an hour later in Ramot, a settlement in the city’s north. Police said one person died from their wounds and at least three were seriously wounded in the blasts.
Israeli media said the person killed was 16 years old.
The suspected attacks came as Israeli-Palestinian tensions are high, following months of Israeli raids in the occupied West Bank prompted by a spate of deadly attacks against Israelis that killed 19 people.
The violence also comes as former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is holding coalition talks after national elections and is likely to return to power as head of what’s expected to be Israel’s most right-wing government ever.
Police, who were searching for the suspected attackers, said their initial findings showed that shrapnel-laden explosive devices were placed at the two sites.
The twin blasts occurred amid the buzz of rush hour traffic and police briefly closed part of a main highway leading out of the city, where the fist explosion went off. Video from shortly after the first blast showed debris strewn along the sidewalk as the wail of ambulances blared. A bus in Ramot was pocked with what looked like shrapnel marks.
“It was a crazy explosion. There is damage everywhere here,” Yosef Haim Gabay, a medic who was at the scene when the first blast occurred, told Israeli Army Radio.
“I saw people with wounds bleeding all over the place.” The United States (US) Embassy in Jerusalem condemned the violence, as did European Union Ambassador to Israel Dimiter Tzantchev. Israel said that in response to the blasts, it was closing two West Bank crossings to Palestinians near the West Bank city of Jenin, a militant stronghold.