Death toll in Haifa terror blast rises to 15

A huge explosion rocked a bus in central Haifa at 2:20 p.m. yesterday. The explosion occurred as the bus was traveling on Moriah Street near the Carmeliya neighborhood. The bus was destroyed in the blast. "The scenes are horrific here, twisted metal, it is very difficult to look at," a witness told Israel Radio.

12 people were killed instantly in the bombing, and three other people died of their injuries, the Israel Radio reported. A spokesman for Magen David Adom said that ambulances evacuated some 30 people for medical care, 15 of them in serious condition. The driver of the bus, Marwan Damouni, a 31-year-old Arab Israeli from Shefar'am, was lightly injured, ynet reported.

"I suddenly heard an explosion," Damouni told Army Radio. "I tried to move, to see if there were wounded... I couldn't hear anything because of the force of the blast."

Israeli Police Northern District Commander Yaakov Borovsky said the blast was the result of a single suicide bomber who was traveling on the bus.

Hamas claimed credit. A Palestinian from Hebron reportedly carried out the attack. Israeli forces arrested his father and two brothers.

Egged spokesman Ron Ratner said the blast occurred on bus line no. 37, on its way from Bat Galim to Haifa University. The blast blew off the roof of the bus and set the vehicle on fire. Windows in nearby stores were blown out.

"It is very difficult with only 500 security guards to protect 2 million passengers a day," Ratner told ynet. "The attack proves that public transportation continues to serve as a target for the terrorists and that the relative quiet lately was imaginary.

Police said they had general warnings of impending terror attacks all the time, but nothing specific regarding Haifa had been received.

The Haifa bombing was the first major terror attack in Israel since the double suicide bombing attack at Tel Aviv's old central bus station on January 5, in which 23 people were killed.

38 people have been killed in six deadly terror attacks in Haifa since the start of the Intifada. Israelinsider