Israel: Assailant opens fire on bus station, soldier killed

Jerusalem: An Arab attacker armed with a gun and a knife opened fire in a southern Israel bus station, police said, killing an Israeli soldier and wounding 10 people in one of the boldest attacks yet in a monthlong wave of violence.

The attack came as Israel further tightened security around the country, highlighted by the construction of a barrier separating Jewish and Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem. In a bid to halt the fighting, US Secretary of State John Kerry said he would meet the Israeli and Palestinian leaders in the coming days.

Israel has deployed thousands of police, backed up by troops, to maintain order following a spate of attacks, mostly stabbings, by Palestinian assailants. Those measures have so far failed to stop the violence.

In yesterday night's attack, police said the Arab assailant entered the central bus station in the southern city  of Beersheba and began shooting and stabbing people. They saidan Israeli soldier was killed, five police were lightly wounded and five civilians were wounded to varying degrees.

Yoram Halevy, a police commander in southern Israel, told reporters that in addition to the knife and gun he entered with, the attacker also snatched a weapon from the soldier he killed.

The attacker, whose identity was not immediately known, was shot and killed. A foreigner was shot by police during the attack after  they apparently mistook him for an assailant. Halevy said security forces responding to the attack entered the bus station from another area and saw a "foreign national,"  shooting and wounding him.

Israeli media said the foreigner was an Eritrean national living in Israel. Israeli media showed footage of a blood-streaked floor and rows of ambulances outside the bus station. Security camera footage from the bus station aired on Israeli TV showed what appeared to be a civilian shooting the attacker as soldiers and civilians crouched for cover nearby.

The attack was one of the most serious incidents amid near-daily bouts of violence that has hit Israel and the Palestinian territories over the past month. After the attack, a crowd of Israelis gathered outside the bus station and chanted "death to Arabs."

The unrest erupted in Jerusalem a month ago over tensions surrounding a Jerusalem holy site sacred to Jews and Muslims. It soon spread to Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem and then to the West Bank, Gaza and Israel

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