2 Israeli guards killed at security barrier

Meanwhile, child killed in Jenin, Palestinians say

November 23, 2003|By Laura King | Laura King,LOS ANGELES TIMES

JERUSALEM -- Two private Israeli guards at a construction site along Israel's security barrier were killed last night by gunmen believed to be Palestinians acting out of "nationalistic" motives, police said.

Using searchlights and helicopters, Israeli troops and police spent hours scouring the nearby rough, rocky terrain. No arrests were immediately reported, and no group took responsibility.

The scene of the shooting was on Jerusalem's outskirts, in the Kidron Valley, a steep ravine that runs between Jerusalem's Old City and the Mount of Olives.

The attack came as Israel and Palestinian officials continued efforts to lay the groundwork for talks between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his Palestinian counterpart, Ahmed Qureia. It would be the first meeting between the two leaders since Qureia's government was sworn in this month.

Both sides have signaled that they want to try to revive the moribund U.S.-backed peace plan known as the "road map," but each has also expressed deep doubts about whether the other side is prepared to begin talks in good faith.

Violence also flared yesterday in the West Bank town of Jenin, where Israeli troops shot and killed a child throwing stones, according to Palestinian officials. The army said soldiers had fired at a gunman in the crowd of stone-throwers but had no knowledge of a child's death.

Palestinian witnesses and neighbors identified the child as 10-year-old Ibrahim Jalamna.

The two slain Israeli guards were watching over heavy construction equipment being used to build the security barrier, which has drawn harsh criticism from Palestinians and human rights groups.

Israel defends the barrier -- which is part concrete wall and part electric fence, bolstered in some sections by trenches and a wide buffer zone -- as a necessary bulwark against suicide attackers.

Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said the two security guards were in their car when two or three gunmen approached and shot them at close range. The assailants then stole the weapons of the critically wounded guards and fled, he said.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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