Gunman kills 2 at bar in Tel Aviv; manhunt underway

January 2, 2016 5:17 pm

 

A woman reacts at the scene of the shooting attack. Photo / AP

A gunman opened fire outside a popular bar in the coastal Israeli
city of Tel Aviv on Friday afternoon, killing two people and wounding at
least three others before fleeing the scene, police said.
The
motive for the shooting spree, which took place on a busy main street,
was not immediately clear, police said. Media reported the assailant was
a member of Israel’s Arab minority and called it a nationalistically
motivated attack but police refused to comment, saying it was still
investigating.
Israeli Channel 10 TV showed CCTV footage of the
incident, obtained from a health food shop next to the bar. It shows a
man with short hair, glasses and a black bag over his shoulder scooping
up some nuts, putting them in a plastic bag, then emptying them back.
The footage then shows the man walking toward the entrance of the store,
placing his backpack on a shopping cart and taking a gun out of it. He
then steps outside and starts shooting, after which he runs away.

The TV station’s defense analyst Alon Ben-David said the
gunman was an Israeli Arab and that the attacker’s father had seen his
son on television and notified authorities. He said the shooter’s calm
demeanor and the way he was holding and shooting the gun show he was
well trained. A Quran, the Muslim holy book, was found later in the
attacker’s bag, he said. The Associated Press could not independently
confirm those details.
Channel 10 also later spoke to a man it
identified only as Ahmed who it said was a relative of the shooter. The
man described the shooter as “traumatized” after a cousin was killed by
police in 2006, and who had served time in Israeli prison after
allegedly grabbing an officer’s gun.
Residents of the village of
Arara in northern Israel told media they recognized the shooter and said
he was from their village. They condemned the attack and called on him
to turn himself in.
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said five
people were wounded in the attack, two of whom died in hospital. She
said a massive manhunt was underway for the shooter. Large police forces
were deployed at the scene.
The attack comes amid more than
three months of almost daily Palestinian attacks against Israeli
civilians and soldiers. On the Israeli side, 21 people have died, mostly
in stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks. That’s without
counting the victims in Friday’s attack.
At least 131
Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, 90 of them identified by
Israel as assailants. The rest died in clashes with security forces.
Tel
Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai visited the wounded in hospital and later said he
spoke with those who were able to talk. He said that inside the bar,
“friends were celebrating a birthday and a man opened fire at them from
the outside.”
Later, police said an Arab Israeli man was found
near the shooting scene with a gunshot wound and later died of his
wounds in hospital. The police said an investigation is underway and
that it is not clear whether that man is in any way connected to the bar
shooting.
Israel’s Arabs, who make up a fifth of the country’s
8.4 million population, enjoy full rights but have long complained of
discrimination and unfair treatment in areas such as housing and
employment opportunities.

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