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JERUSALEM:

Two explosions at bus stops on Jerusalem’s outskirts wounded up to 15 people on Wednesday, emergency services said, in what Israeli police said appeared to be an attack by Palestinian fighters.

They blamed the initial blast on an explosive device planted at a bus station near the city exit, while a second soon after hit a bus stop in the neighbourhood of an urban settlement in the city’s east.

The explosions, about 30 minutes apart, appeared to be a Palestinian attack, police said.

Television images showed debris strewn around the scene of the first blast, which was cordoned off by emergency services.

There were no immediate reports of fatalities but health services said 12 people had been taken to hospital from the first blast, at least two with serious injuries. At least three people were wounded in the second explosion, police said.

The explosions, which carry echoes of the bus bombings that were a hallmark of the Palestinian revolt of 2000-2005, follow months of tension in the occupied West Bank after the Israeli military launched a crackdown in the wake of a series of deadly attacks in Israel.

Tension has also been exacerbated by repeated stand-offs between Muslims and groups of unauthorised Jewish worshippers at the Al Aqsa mosque complex in Jerusalem, known to Jews as the Temple Mount.

A spokesman for the Palestinian group Hamas praised the apparent bombings but stopped short of claiming responsibility.

Hamas spokesman Abdel-Latif Al-Qanoua said the bombings “resulted from the crimes conducted by the occupation and the settlers”.

The explosions came as former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu negotiates with allies to form a new right-wing government including members of religious and far-right parties.



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