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Eight Killed in Shooting at Religious School in Jerusalem

  • VOA News

A Palestinian gunman has killed eight people and wounded 35 others in an attack inside a Jewish religious school in Jerusalem.

Witnesses say the gunman entered a crowded room at the rabbinical seminary Merkaz Harav Yeshiva Thursday evening and opened fire with a Kalashnikov rife. An Israeli police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld says the attacker was killed on the scene.

Police said the gunman was a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem. Hezbollah's Manar television station says a previously unknown group (called the Martyrs of Imad Mughniyeh and Gaza) claimed responsibility, but the claim could not be verified.

The attack came after weeks of escalating violence, with Palestinian militants firing rockets at southern Israel and Israeli forces killing more than 100 people in strikes on Gaza.

A spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry Arye Mekel says Thursday's attack was aimed at killing chances for peace. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also condemned the attack.

US President George Bush called Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to tell him the United States "stands firmly with Israel" in the face of the attack.

The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on Thursday, but members could not agree on the wording of a statement about the Jerusalem attack.

Earlier Thursday, the Israeli army said one of its soldiers was killed and three others wounded when a bomb destroyed their jeep along the Israel-Gaza border. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.

Palestinian medics say an Israeli attack in northern Gaza killed four Palestinian militants.

Egypt has begun talks with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, seeking a truce between the militant groups and Israel. The talks are being held in the Egyptian Sinai city of El Arish, three days after Israel ended a Gaza offensive that killed more than 120 Palestinian militants and civilians in an effort to stop near-daily rocket attacks on Israel.

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