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Suicide attackers kill Israeli soldier


NABLUS, Dec 29: One Israeli soldier was killed when two Palestinian suicide bombers blew themselves up by an army checkpoint in the occupied West Bank Thursday, Israeli medical and security sources said, report agencies.
A military source said one Israeli was killed and three others wounded, while a source in Zaka, the body parts recovery service, confirmed that the person who died was a soldier.
The Israeli military source said the two bombers, whom Palestinian sources said were a man and a woman, blew themselves up after being stopped at a mobile checkpoint near the northern town of Tulkarem.
The roadblock had been set up following information that they were planning to carry out an attack inside Israel over the Jewish festival of lights holiday period, Hannukah, which ends on January 2.
Local medical sources said that five Palestinians were also wounded in the blast.
Palestinian security sources said that the bombers, a man and a woman, had blown themselves up as they were ordered to get out of their vehicle.
The Israeli military said it believed that a number of Palestinians, apart from the bombers, had been killed but there was no immediate confirmation from Palestinian medics.
Israel has been fearing a major increase in militant violence in the run-up to next month's Palestinian parliamentary elections.
Five Israelis were killed on December 5 in the last Palestinian suicide bombing, when a member of Islamic Jihad blew himself at a shopping mall in the Israeli coastal town of Netanya.
The bomber came from a village in the Tulkarem area, a stronghold of Islamic Jihad. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Thursday's attack.
The army has rounded up hundreds of Jihad activists in the three weeks following the Netanya attack.
The main militant factions, including the largest Islamist movement Hamas, are meant to be observing a truce but it has been showing increasing signs of unravelling in the past few weeks.
Meanwhile: Concern was rising Thursday for the fate of three members of a British family kidnapped in the Gaza Strip, as diplomats and security officers scoured the territory for their whereabouts.
"Certainly we are concerned. It's been over 17 hours but we're optimistic," said a spokesman for the British consulate in east Jerusalem.
A woman human rights worker, her mother and father were snatched at gunpoint and bundled into a white Mercedes in the flashpoint southern Gaza town of Rafah close to the border with Egypt Wednesday.
Unlike many kidnappings of foreigners in Gaza that have been resolved in just a few hours, there has been no official claim of responsibility, no ransom demand and no contact with the kidnappers, British and Palestinian sources said.
British diplomats were now on the ground helping the Palestinian Authority to secure their release.