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October 12, 2002

Police: Would-be bomber arrested

TEL AVIV, Israel - U.S. Embassy security guards overpowered a would-be suicide bomber who had tried to enter a crowded cafe nearby on the Tel Aviv beachfront on Friday, police said.

"The security guard at the entrance to the cafe searched him and when he found the explosive vest, the man ran away and the guard chased him while calling for help from security personnel of the American Embassy," said Shlomit Herzberg, chief spokeswoman for police in Tel Aviv.

The embassy security guards overpowered the man and called police. She said a bomb squad removed the man's explosive vest and it was being neutralized.

There were no immediate reports of injury and police said they did not know of any other people involved in the attack.

The suspect, whose identity was not immediately available, was detained and taken to a police station for questioning.

The embassy is a prominent three-story brick building on a beachfront promenade lined with bars, restaurants and high-rise hotels. Security guards there include both Israelis and Americans.

The incident occurred a day after a suicide bomber killed a 71-year-old woman and injured four other people near Tel Aviv.

An Israeli bus driver closed the door before the 30-year-old Palestinian could board his crowded bus, then joined with a doctor in pinning the man to the ground while most of those nearby fled.

Also on Friday, more than 10,000 supporters of Arafat's Fatah movement rallied in the heart of Gaza City, many firing automatic weapons into the air.

It was a show of strength directed at a rival group, the militant Islamic organization Hamas. Demonstrators insisted on the surrender of men who killed the head of Palestinian riot police on Monday.

An even larger crowd of police officers and militiamen marched Thursday in the funeral procession for Col. Rajah Abu Lehiya, who was killed by a militiaman from the Islamic militant group Hamas.

The policeman's killing set off skirmishes in which six other people have died - the latest a 17-year-old youth who died Friday of injuries sustained earlier in the week.