Palestinian police have arrested
several militants suspected of involvement in Wednesday's bomb attack on an American
diplomatic convoy in the Gaza Strip. The blast killed three American security
guards, and has brought renewed pressure on the Palestinian Authority to crack
down on militants.
Palestinian police moved into the Jebalya refugee camp in Gaza early Thursday,
and arrested several militants belonging to the Popular Resistance Committees,
a splinter group made up largely of former security officials and breakaway
members of the mainstream Palestinian Fatah movement.
The Palestinian Authority is under growing pressure to find and arrest those
responsible for Wednesday's attack on the American convoy.
U.S. security personnel and diplomats were on their way to Gaza City to meet
with Palestinian academics about Fulbright scholarships. The three Americans
were killed when a powerful bomb detonated as their car passed, destroying the
armored vehicle and leaving behind blood, body parts and mangled metal.
The main Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and
the al-Aqsa Brigades were quick to deny any involvement in the attack.
Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat and his Prime Minister Ahmed
Qureia strongly condemned the attack, and promised to investigate. President
Bush said the Palestinian Authority should have cracked down on terrorists
long ago. European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana is reported to
have told Mr. Arafat that condemnation and excuses are not enough, but that
tough action is needed.
A team of American experts with the Federal Bureau of Investigation is expected
to assist in the investigation of the attack, working closely with Israeli
Violence continued on the ground Thursday, as Israeli security forces, backed
by dozens of armored vehicles carried out another raid into parts of the Rafah
refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip. The military says it is conducting
the operations to shut down tunnels being used by Palestinian militants to
smuggle in weapons from neighboring Egypt.
A Palestinian security official was reported killed and more than a dozen
people were injured in sporadic gun fights during Thursday's overnight operation.