Palestinian militant killed in Nablus explosion


An explosion has killed a Palestinian militant and wounded two other people near the West Bank city of Nablus.

Israel army radio said the blast in Askar refugee camp last night occurred while the Palestinian who was killed was preparing a bomb.

Islamic Jihad, a militant group involved in numerous suicide bomb attacks against Israelis, acknowledged in a statement today one of its members had been killed in a "holy war action," but did not spell out exactly how he died.

The blast occurred at a cafe in Askar refugee camp, which is adjacent to Nablus, and witnesses initially reported that it was due to a gas explosion in a kitchen.

The incident occurred amid a storm of Palestinian outrage against US President George W. Bush's endorsement on Wednesday of an Israeli plan to retain some large West Bank settlements after a planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie has denounced the US policy shift as a "catastrophe".

Israeli troops shot dead a 17-year-old protester in a demonstration yesterday staged against both Mr Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in the West Bank village of Bitunia. The Israeli army said he was throwing a petrol bomb at troops.