JERUSALEM (AP) — A pipe bomb believed to have been planted by Palestinian militants exploded Sunday on board a bus in central Israel just moments after it had been evacuated, police said, in the most serious attack inside Israel in more than a year.
The explosion came at a sensitive time in Mideast peace efforts. Israel and the Palestinians resumed talks last summer for the first time in nearly five years, and the U.S.-brokered negotiations have made little visible progress. The explosion threatened to further poison what has become a tense and negative atmosphere.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said there were no injuries in the blast, which took place in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam. The explosion blew windows out of the bus and charred the sides of the vehicle.
"Based on the findings at the scene by bomb disposal experts, it was a terrorist attack," Rosenfeld said. "We're continuing to search the area for suspects."
Rosenfeld said the nature of the target and the nature of the device led authorities to determine that militants, not criminals, were behind the bombing. He declined to elaborate, and there was no immediate claim of responsibility.
He said the bomb was discovered in a bag on the bus. The driver quickly ordered passengers to get off, and the bomb exploded shortly after as a bomb squad expert was inspecting it. The police sapper was not injured but was taken to a hospital to be evaluated.