Gunman open fire in Jewish seminary

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL (CBS/AP) -- Two gunmen entered the library of a rabbinical seminary in Jerusalem and opened fire after nightfall Thursday, killing at least seven, police and rescue workers said.

Israeli media said about 35 people were wounded. Channel 2 TV said police special forces killed the two infiltrators.

Ambulances raced to the scene from around the city. Media reports said many people were wounded. Hundreds of police surrounded the area and searched the campus.

The gunmen entered the library, where about 80 people were gathered, witnesses said, and opened fire. "There are at least seven killed and 10 people wounded," said Eli Dein, director of Israel's rescue service.

Yitzhak Dadon, a student, said he was armed with a rifle and waited on the roof of a nearby building. "He came out of the library spraying automatic fire ... the terrorist came to the entrance and I shot him twice in the head," he said.

The attack came a day after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice persuaded moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to return to peace talks with Israel. It came on the same day as Egyptian officials were trying to mediate a truce between Palestinian militants and Israel.

Earlier Thursday, Palestinian militants in Gaza set off a bomb on the Gaza border, blowing up an Israeli army jeep and killing a soldier.

Medic Yaron Tzuker said he arrived as the gunfire was still going on. "They were still shooting when we got here," he told Channel 10 TV. "We took cover and the ambulance was hit. It's horrible inside — dead bodies and wounded — it's horrific."

Another witness told Israel TV that he heard both single shots and automatic gunfire from inside the building, and it went on about 10 minutes.

The seminar is the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in the Kiryat Moshe quarter at the entrance to Jerusalem, a well-known center of Jewish studies identified with the leadership of the Jewish settlement movement in the West Bank. Most of the students are high school age.

The Mercaz Harav yeshiva has around 500 students including many foreigners, reports CBS News correspondent Dan Raviv. Some young American Jewish men study there.

Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben Ruby said, "One or two terrorists infiltrated the Mercaz Harav seminary and opened fire in all directions. One terrorist was killed in an exchange of fire." He said the dead gunman was wearing a vest that at first appeared to be an explosives vest but turned out to be a belt holding extra ammunition.

He said students were evacuated from the building, and police were searching from room to room.

An hour after the attack, medics began removing the bodies of the dead from the building, taking them away in ambulances.

Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski told Channel 2, "It's very sad tonight in Jerusalem — many people were killed in the heart of Jerusalem."

There were no attacks by Palestinian militants in Jerusalem during 2007, though police and the military claimed to have foiled many attempts. Between 2001 and 2004, at the height of Palestinian-Israeli fighting, Jerusalem was a frequent target of Palestinian attacks, including suicide bombings on buses.

In Gaza City, residents went out into the streets and fired rifles in celebration in the air after hearing news of the attack on the seminary.

© MMVIII, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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