BAKA AL-GHARBIYA, Israel – Two Palestinian gunmen headed to commit a suicide attack in Israel got in a gunbattle with Israeli police in the West Bank on Saturday. One policeman was fatally shot before the gunmen were killed, one when his explosives went off.
Israeli police said one of the men was wearing a belt armed with explosives, and both police and a Palestinian militant group that claimed responsibility said they were planning a suicide attack in Israel.
The men were in a car coming from the West Bank toward Israel when they encountered border police at Baka al-Gharbiya, an Arab town along the "green line" that separates Israel and the West Bank.
When police ordered them to stop, the gunmen opened fire, starting a gunbattle that left one policeman dead and one of the gunmen wounded, police said.
When police advanced toward the wounded gunman on the ground, he tossed a grenade, which exploded but did not cause any injuries. Police then fatally shot the gunman.
Police said they fired at the second gunman, who was still in the car, and the shots caused an explosion in the vehicle. The blast was apparently caused by an explosives belt worn by the gunmen, police said.
"I have no doubt that a very serious terrorist bombing in some Israeli town was prevented," said Farid Ghanem, a captain with Israel's Border Police.
The Al-Aqsa Brigades, which is linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, took responsibility for the attack. In a phone call to The Associated Press, an official in the militia, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the two were attempting to carry out a suicide attack inside Israel.