Palestinian gunman kills eight in Jerusalem seminary

March 7th, 2008 - 7:20 am ICT by admin  

Tel Aviv, March 7 (DPA) A Palestinian gunman entered a Jewish religious seminary in Jerusalem Thursday night, made his way to the library and opened fire in all directions, killing eight students before being shot dead, the police said. Nine students were wounded in the attack, three of them seriously.

Initial reports that there had been two gunmen, and one had fled the scene, proved to be incorrect.

Jerusalem police chief Aharon Franco said the gunman had arrived at the seminary, located in a West Jerusalem suburb, shortly before 9 p.m.

He opened fire in the seminary’s library, where dozens of students were studying. According to one witness account, he sprayed the room with bullets for about 10 minutes.

An army officer who was nearby the seminary heard the shooting sound and rushed to the scene and shot and killed the gunman.

Though none of the main militant groups claimed responsibility for the shooting, a previously unknown group called the Free People of the Galilee, dubbing itself squad of Gaza, claimed responsibility for the attack, according to al-Manar Hezbollah television in Lebanon.

In Gaza City news of the attack was greeted with joy, as militants, mainly from Hamas, fired in the air and honked their car horns in celebration, while other Palestinians handed out candy to passers-by in the street.

Hamas Gaza spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told reporters that the attack was a “a selective operation, which is a reaction to the Israeli occupation’s crimes and the massacres committed against civilians in the Gaza Strip.”

US President George W. Bush, who called up Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to express his condolences, said in a statement: “This barbaric and vicious attack on innocent civilians deserves the condemnation of every nation.”

In decrying the attacks, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said there was “no cause that could ever justify this action”.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the attack and extended his condolences to the families of those killed.

“The secretary general condemns in the strongest terms today’s savage attack on a Jewish seminary in west Jerusalem, and the deliberate killing and injuring of civilians,” a UN statement said.

It is unclear how the attack will impact the troubled Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, which only restarted in December after a seven-year hiatus.

The ultra-Orthodox Shas party, the most hawkish of Olmert’s coalition partners, has been demanding the talks to be frozen following the rocket attacks by Palestinian militants.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, for his part, suspended Palestinian participation in the talks last weekend, to protest an Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip which left over 120 Palestinians dead. He recanted Wednesday when US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was in the region.

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