Triple blast rocks Ben Yehuda mall killing at least six

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JERUSALEM — A triple bomb blast rocked the Ben-Yehuda pedestrian mall in downtown Jerusalem on Thursday, killing at least six and wounding more than 170.

Israel immediately resealed the West Bank and Gaza Strip as the Palestinian Authority denounced the bombing, for which Hamas reportedly claimed responsibility.

At least one American, an 18-year-old religious student from Los Angeles, is among the injured, according to news reports. None of the victims' names were immediately available.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to crack down against Palestinian militants after Thursday's bombing if Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat failed to do so.

"We cannot continue in this way," he told reporters at a Jerusalem hospital.

President Clinton, who condemned the attack, announced that U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright would go ahead with her planned visit to the Middle East next week.

Senior Israeli officials called on her to go ahead with the visit, but only to discuss security concerns.

Earlier this week, Israel partially lifted the closure it imposed on the West Bank and Gaza after a July 30 double suicide bombing in Jerusalem that killed 15 Israelis.

On Thursday, Netanyahu spokesman David Bar-Illan linked the partial easing of the closure with the latest attack.

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