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Two Try to Stop Bomber Before Deadly Attack

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Two try to stop bomber before deadly attack

Thursday, October 10, 2002 Posted: 1:49 PM EDT (1749 GMT)

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Two people struggled to subdue a Palestinian suicide bomber before he blew himself up Thursday at a bus stop near Tel Aviv, killing a woman, according to medical sources and Israeli police.

About 20 people were injured in the attack. The bomber had tried to get onto a bus near the Tel Aviv suburb of Bnei Brak shortly before 8 a.m., but the driver closed the back doors, causing the bomber to fall, an Israeli police chief told Israeli radio.

When the driver and passengers went to check on him, they saw he had an explosives belt, the police official said.

The driver, Baruch Neuman, said when he and the passengers saw the man was wearing a suicide belt, they grabbed his hands to prevent him from setting off the device.

"We started checking him. When we opened his shirt we saw the (explosive) belt. We saw the wires. I was in shock," said Neuman. "We each grabbed one of his hands. I knew that if he blew himself up there would be a lot of dead people."

Many were able to evacuate the area before the man detonated the belt.

Neuman said as soon as passengers were off the bus the passenger helping him pin down the bomber looked at him and said: "We must let go together and run. We flew out of there. Then the bomber got up, walked a few meters and exploded."

Israeli police had been on an elevated alert for suicide bombers after militant Palestinian groups vowed revenge for the Israeli army's Monday incursion in the Gaza town of Khan Younis, in which 16 Palestinians were killed.

The bombing came shortly after Israeli-Palestinian fighting in southern Gaza killed two Palestinians -- a 12-year-old and an 18-year-old -- according to hospital sources in Rafah. They died near Rafah as they and others emerged from their homes while Israeli forces engaged in clashes with Palestinian gunmen.

Israeli forces continued to operate near Ramallah on Thursday, where they have arrested 55 Palestinians wanted by Israel -- including several members of the Hamas movement -- since the operation began Wednesday night, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

The forces have also arrested 19 other wanted Palestinians across the West Bank, the IDF said, which also includes Hamas members.

"We each grabbed one of his hands. I knew that if he blew himself up there would be a lot of dead people."

-- Baruch Neuman, bus driver

Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization, has been labeled by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization. The group's military wing, Izzedine al Qassam, has admitted responsibility for terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians as well as attacks against the Israeli military.

CNN Correspondent Jerrold Kessel and CNN's Tagreed Elkhodary contributed this report.

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