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Palestinian wounds 2 Israeli cops

A PALESTINIAN driver rammed a large construction vehicle into a bus and police car yesterday in Jerusalem, Israel, wounding two officers before he was shot dead - the latest in a string of attacks by Palestinian militants using heavy machinery against Israeli targets.

Witnesses described a harrowing site of the towering yellow front loader speeding along the highway, dragging the police car, flipping it into the air and trying to crush it with its front shovel.

The attack occurred on Jerusalem's Begin Highway, a main thoroughfare connecting the northern and southern parts of the city.

Witnesses said the attacker apparently worked at a nearby construction site. There was no immediate claim of responsibility or details of the man's identity.

"It was simply an attack meant to murder innocent people," Mayor Nir Barkat told Channel 2 television. He called for the demolition of the attacker's home ?? a tactic that has drawn international criticism in the past. Barkat said home demolitions are needed to deter other attacks.

The rampage came as Israel was preparing to celebrate Purim - a holiday in which schools are closed, children dress up in costumes and families are out and about at parties and public events.

Barkat said the attack would not stop next week's celebrations. "We need to get back to our routine as fast as possible to show the terrorists that they won't ruin our holiday," he said.

One witness, a taxi driver identified as "Dor," told Israel Radio that he chased the driver as he watched the attack unfold.

"I saw the police car fly into the air. He flipped it over twice, then continued dragging it toward a bus that was stuck in traffic," he said. He told the station he fired four shots at the man, wounding him. "Then a policeman came with his M-16 and finished him off," he said.

Deputy police chief Nisso Shachar said the attacker was first spotted by a police car. "The officer saw the bulldozer lift up a police squad car with its shovel after trying to squash it," he said. "It is without a doubt a terror attack."


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