Photo: Reuters

Jerusalem----December 2.....Two Arab suicide terrorists and one car bomb killed 12 people and wounded over 180 last night in downtown Jerusaelm.

Two explosions took place near mid-night spreading carnage through Jerusalem's crowded Ben-Yehuda pedestrian mall and were followed by a massive car bomb attack on nearby Kook Street, which apparently did not cause many casualties.

The mall had been packed with Saturday night crowd of mainly teenagers out for the evening. The bomb scene was gruesome with overturned tables, bloody chairs, and bodies and body parts strewn on the ground, in one of the worst attacks in Jerusalem in months.

Photo: AP / Michael Freilich / World Committee for Justice and Peace

Police speculated that the number of casualties would probably turn out to be similar to those in the devastating Sbarro pizzeria attack in Jerusalem and the Dolphin discotheque bombing in Tel Aviv several months ago, when a total of 36 were killed.

Israel blamed Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat for the attack. "As head of the Palestinian Authority, Arafat bears direct responsibility for what happened today in Jerusalem," government spokesman Avi Pazner said. Arafat has recently been charged with "crimes against humanity" in an international court in Brussels.

The blasts were so powerful that they shattered the windows of cars parked a block away.

Blood was splattered across store fronts, and bits of flesh and metal bolts from the explosives were strewn on the ground.

Patrons of cafes huddled indoors, behind closed doors. A young man and woman sitting in the corner of one cafe held on to each other. Teen-age girls and boys were screaming and crying into mobile phones, talking to their parents, trying to find their friends in the chaos.

"I was sitting having coffee with my girlfriend," said Gideon, 25, from Jerusalem, "when suddenly we heard an immense explosion. The explosion was followed by yet a second one."

"I saw people without arms. I saw a person with their stomach hanging open. I saw a 10-year-old-boy breathe his last breath. I can't believe anybody would do anything like this."

- Witness Yossi Mizrahi told Reuters

Witness Yossi Mizrahi told Reuters: "I saw people without arms. I saw a person with their stomach hanging open. I saw a 10-year-old-boy breathe his last breath. I can't believe anybody would do anything like this."

Photo: Michael Freilich / World Committee for Justice and Peace

"There were lots of limbs and dead bodies," said Michael Perry, 37, who ran out of a bar on the mall after hearing the back-to-back blasts just before midnight. "I saw three dead and what looked like the remains of the suicide bomber. It was just a lump of something," Perry said.

Photo: AP

Another bystander, Eli Shetreet, 19, said he saw bodies being hurled in the air. "A lot of people were crying, falling, and there was the smell of burning hair," he said.

As police and Magen David Adom officials raced to the scene in downtown Jerusalem and began treating the wounded from the initial bombings, a car bomb went off with a thunderous roar on Rehov Kook, just 40 meters away from the site of the initial attacks.

Israel Radio reported that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was considering cutting short his US visit and returning to Israel. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer conferred immediately after the attack with police Insp.-Gen. Shlomo Aharonishky. Peres updated Sharon on the details of the atrocity.

Cowardly acts of Arab barbarism
amid coffee tables and storefronts

In the minutes after the attack, the scene in downtown Jerusalem looked like a war zone, with scores of ambulances, police vans, and medics trying desperately to treat the wounded, mostly teenagers.

"It was just horrendous. I still hear the sound of the explosions in my mind," said Rachel Levinson, 17, of Jerusalem.

Police said the car bomb contained several mortar shells.

It was not immediately clear how many people were hurt by the car bomb.

Hospitals in Jerusalem
Overseas callers please dial 972

Hadassah-University Hospital, Ein Kerem
Tel. 1255122

Hadassah-University Hospital, Mount Scopus
Tel. 1255121

Shaare Zedek Hospital
Tel. 1255125

Bikur Holim Hospital
Tel. 1255123

Half an hour after the attacks, police and border police were evacuating everyone from the downtown area, and streets which had been previously filled with people out for a night's entertainment were almost completely emptied. However, on the ground the bodies of those killed were still in view. The special Hessed Shel Emet squad could be seen collecting body parts at the scene.

Police said the bombs the two suicide bombers had carried on their bodies contained screws and nails to add to the carnage. Police warned of other possible car bombs in the area, and worked feverishly to evacuate onlookers from the scene.

In the United States, President Bush issued a strong statement from his retreat at Camp David, Maryland.

"I was horrified and saddened to learn of the bombings that took place tonight in Jerusalem. I strongly condemn them as acts of murder than no person of conscience can tolerate and no cause can ever justify. "On behalf of the American people, I extend my deepest sympathy and condolences to the families of the victims, to my friend, Prime Minister Sharon and to all the people of Israel," the president said.

Cafes and restaurants which had previously been crowded with customers closed down quickly, even as emergency crews raced by to reach the scene of the attacks.

Meanwhile, Jaffa Road was a sea of ambulances, their lights flashing as they carried the wounded to nearby Bikur Holim Hospital and the city's other hospitals, where emergency staff raced in to help treat the wounded.

The police have released a list containing ten names of those who perished in last night's terror attack:

Adam Weinstein, 14, from the community of Givon Hahadasha, north of the capital

Yuri Korganov, 20, from Ma'ale Adumim, east of the city

Sgt. Nir Hafsadie, 19, from the Gilo neighborhood. Hafsadie will be buried at 15:30 at Mt. Herzl military cemetery.

Guy Vaknin, 19, from the Har Nof neighborhood

Moshe Yadid Levy, 19, from the Gilo neighborhood

Yosef El Ezra, 18, from the Gonen neighborhood

Israel Ya'akov Danino, 17, from the Har Nof neighborhood

Golan Turgeman, 15, from the Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood

Asaf Avitan, 15, from the Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood

Michael Moshe Dahan, 20, from the capital's Beit Hakerem neighborhood. Dahan will be buried at 14:30 at Har Hamenuchot cemetery.