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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

10 Wounded in Central Tel Aviv Blasts

TEL AVIV -- Two bombs apparently planted by Arab guerrillas exploded near Tel Aviv's central bus station Thursday, wounding at least 10 people, security and hospital officials said.


National Police Chief Assaf Hefetz said the bombs were packed with nails, pointing almost certainly to a guerrilla attack.


A spokeswoman for Tel Aviv's Ichilov hospital said 10 people were wounded, but none seriously.


The blasts came against the backdrop of U.S.-brokered talks between Israel and the PLO on self-rule for most of the West Bank town of Hebron. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosions.


Palestinian militants last mounted a bombing campaign in the Jewish state in February and March when suicide bombers killed 59 people.


Asked if police believed Arab guerrillas were responsible for Thursday's blasts, Police Minister Avigdor Kahalani told Israeli Army Radio: "That's what we think."


Kahalani said it appeared the bombs were planted in rubbish bins next to a cinema that screens sex movies.


"There was a very strong explosion under the Central Cinema, in a snack bar. A few minutes later, there was another blast," a witness told Israeli Army Radio.


"It was a tremendous explosion. A sunflower seed seller was hurt. Police arrived five minutes later. As they were checking things, another bomb went off and a policeman was hurt," said another witness.


Police and ambulances rushed to the scene, a run-down area of Tel Aviv that serves as an outdoor annex of the city's main enclosed central bus station situated several blocks away.


Shops were still open at the time of the blast, at around 8:25 p.m. local time.


The blasts came as Palestinians on Thursday turned down a U.S. compromise date for Israeli troop withdrawals in the West Bank, insisting Washington make Israel respect the original timetable.


Arafat's rejection was another blow to the Middle East peace mission of U.S. envoy Dennis Ross who has been shuttling for weeks between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat.


Publicly, U.S. officials said Ross had no plans to return home but in private one official said he could leave Friday if a meeting with Netanyahu late Thursday drew a blank.


Arafat was also waiting for the outcome of Ross's meeting to determine whether he should leave for a scheduled European trip on Friday, PLO officials said.


Ross is trying to close a long-delayed deal on an Israeli withdrawal in Hebron. But Arafat, suspicious of Netanyahu's commitment to wider Palestinian self-rule, has been holding out for guaranteed dates for three further pullbacks in the rest of the West Bank.