At Least Eight Killed in Attack at Jerusalem School
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
We began by mentioning an attack in Jerusalem today. A Palestinian gunman entered a Jewish seminary and opened fire at a library. He killed at least eight students and wounded dozens of others.
In Gaza, the Islamist Hamas movement praised the attack but did not claim responsibility for it. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas condemned the shooting.
NPR's Linda Gradstein went to the scene of the attack and filed this report.
LINDA GRADSTEIN: The Israeli police commissioner said a single gunman entered the building housing the religious seminary carrying a large bag. There was apparently no security guard at the door. The gunman opened fire with a Kalashnikov rifle, killing the students, several of whom were of high school age.
A police officer who lives nearby rushed to the scene and killed the gunman. Avi Cas(ph), a rescue worker, was one of the first to arrive at the scene. He says it's one of the worst terrorist attacks he's seen.
Mr. AVI CAS (Rescue Worker): I've been in a lot of terrorist attacks and I saw it, it was terrible. If you go to every room, you see like one guy or two guys, like, shot in from the floor.
GRADSTEIN: From the outside, the large building housing the religious seminary looks like any college dorm. Some students kept bicycles on their balconies, others has laundry hung out to dry. Students generally study from early in the morning to late at night, and the library would have been crowded.
(Soundbite of crowd shouting)
GRADSTEIN: The neighborhood where the seminary is located is mostly orthodox, and hundreds of angry residents gather to protest against the attack, shouting, death to the Arabs.
Israeli official said it was the first serious attack in Jerusalem in just over four years. Danny Seamen, the director of the government press office, said the gunman took advantage of Jerusalem's mixed population to walk in to the school.
Mr. DANIEL SEAMAN (Director, Israel Government Press Office): Jerusalem is a city that's open. They have Jews, Christians, Muslims, Arabs walk around freely in the city.
GRADSTEIN: In Gaza, Hamas said, there would be more attacks, but stop short of claiming responsibility.
In Lebanon, Hezbollah TV said a previously unknown group named after a senior Hezbollah leader assassinated last month was responsible for today's shooting. Hezbollah has blamed Israel for his assassination. Israeli officials said they were skeptical the Hezbollah was responsible.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack and called on Israel not to suspend peace talks. Israeli officials said the talks would continue. Meanwhile, today, there was more violence in Gaza. Israeli officials said they killed nine members of the militant Palestinian group Islamic Jihad in two separate incidents. An Israeli soldier was also killed by an explosive device while patrolling the Israeli border with Gaza.
Earlier this week, Israeli troops ended a large incursion into Gaza that left more than 120 Palestinians, including dozens of civilians, dead. Israeli officials said that incursion was prompted by ongoing rocket fire from Gaza into southern Israel - rocket fire that continued today.
Linda Gradstein, NPR News, Jerusalem.
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