Israeli forces catch man wearing explosive belt

Border Policemen notice Palestinian in heavy coat, which concealed bomb; army says he was on his way to attack

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Border Police forces at Tapuah Junction in the northern West Bank Friday morning discovered a Palestinian man wearing an explosive vest and thus prevented a planned suicide bombing.

Policemen from the Alon battalion of the Border Police saw the man, a 20-year-old Nablus resident, walking toward them wearing a heavy coat, despite the 35-degree-Celsius heat (95 degrees Farenheit). The policemen called on the man to stop, at which point he lay down in the road.

Eventually, the suspect allowed policemen to remove his coat, revealing what looked like an explosive belt on his person. He admitted that it was indeed a bomb.

The man was arrested, and police sappers were rushed to the scene to neutralize the bomb. According to reports, the explosive belt was composed of 12 pipe bombs connected with electric wires.

“It is still unclear what the suspect’s intentions were,” said battalion commander Shlomi Yosef, according to the Walla news site. “But it is certain that the vigilance and professionalism of the forces led to the arrest of the suspect and the seizure of the explosives, which appear to have prevented a serious disaster.”

IDF sources said their initial estimate is that the man was on his way to an attack, possibly against soldiers stationed nearby. Later reports suggested the attack was planned for a city in Israel.

He was taken in for interrogation.

The junction was closed to traffic for about an hour after the incident, but was soon reopened.

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