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Bush Condemns Gaza Attack on US Convoy - 2003-10-16


President Bush has condemned today's (Wednesday's) bombing of a U.S. diplomatic convoy in the Gaza Strip that killed three American security officers.

Mr. Bush put the blame for the blast squarely on the shoulders of the Palestinian Authority leadership. He says the authority should have acted "long ago to fight terror in all its forms."

Mr. Bush added that the Palestinians need an "empowered" prime minister who controls all Palestinian security forces. U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell called Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia to urge the Palestinian Authority to put an end to violence and terrorism.

Following the bomb attack, the U.S. embassy in Israel advised all American citizens to avoid the area of the attack and leave Gaza as quickly as possible.

The bomb, apparently planted by the roadside, exploded as the U.S. convoy was passing near the Palestinian town of Beit Hanoun (just south of the Erez crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip). Several militant groups have denied involvement in the attack.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Kurtzer says the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is sending a team of bomb experts to investigate.

Palestinian and Israeli leaders have also condemned the attack.

The bombing comes a day after the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel's construction of a security barrier that juts into the Palestinian West Bank.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Negroponte said the Syrian-sponsored resolution failed to address both sides of the larger security context of the Middle East. He said it was unbalanced and did not condemn terrorism in explicit terms.

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