Explosion in Tel Aviv: three people killed

An explosion apparently caused by a gas leak rocked an apartment building in Tel Aviv Wednesday, killing three people and lightly wounding five others, the Israeli rescue service said.

News reports said the blast did not appear to be a suicide bombing. Channel 10 and other Israeli media said a gas canister was believed to be the source of the blast.

Rescue services reported that part of the fourth story of the building collapsed.

Israeli security officials have been bracing for possible retaliation by Islamic Jihad after troops killed the Palestinian militant group's West Bank commander last week.

Yeruham Mendola, a spokesman for the Israeli rescue service, said the explosion went off inside the apartment, but said the damage was so great he could not pinpoint exactly where in the apartment the incident occurred.

"Furniture flew out of the apartment and from other apartments, blankets, pillows and even cement blocks," Mendola told Israel's Army Radio, reports the AP. I.L.