Bomb explosion on Jerusalem bus wounds at least 16 people
JERUSALEM - A bomb blast ripped through a bus in Jerusalem on Monday and sparked a fire, wounding at least 16 people, Israeli police said, in an apparent escalation in a wave of violence.
Details of the incident were still emerging, but police said a bomb had exploded on one bus in a relatively isolated area of Jerusalem, sparking a fire that spread to another one as well as a car.
"A professional examination of police sappers has proven that a bomb exploded on the back part of the bus, resulting in the wounding of passengers and the burning of the bus," a police statement.
"In addition, another bus and car were damaged."
A journalist at the scene said one bus was completely burnt out while another was partially burned, with a large contingent of firefighters battling to extinguish the blaze.
Of the 16 people injured, two were hurt seriously, medics said.
Authorities initially said most of them were passengers on the second bus, though conflicting information later emerged.
The blast struck in an area of the city without any major buildings or homes and which is not heavily used by pedestrians.
The location was on Moshe Baram Street close to the so-called Green Line dividing mainly Jewish west Jerusalem from predominately Palestinian east Jerusalem.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat called on residents to be vigilant, "but continue with your plans."
"Here in Jerusalem and in Israel, we go back to normal life as fast as possible," he said.
"It's part of the deep understanding that if it's a terror attack, they want to deter us from our normal life, and what we must do... is go back to normal life as fast as possible."
The incident comes with tensions high following a wave of violence that began in October that has killed 201 Palestinians and 28 Israelis.
Most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, according to Israeli authorities.
A bus bombing would mark a significant escalation in the violence. The last bomb targeting a bus in Jerusalem dates back to 2011, killing a British tourist.
In Tel Aviv, a bomb exploded on an empty bus in 2013 in what Israeli authorities called a "terrorist" attack.
Suicide bombings were frequent during the second Palestinian intifada between 2000-2005.
Speaking before the bomb was confirmed, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said "if it was a terrorist attack, the implications are very great in terms of security on the ground".
The attacks have steadily declined in recent weeks, though there have been concerns that the Passover holiday beginning April 22 could lead to a new surge in violence.