Jerusalem (Jul. 22)
At least 50 persons were killed and scores injured today when a land mine literally blasted British military headquarters here out of existence.
The explosion wrecked a five-story wing of the King David Hotel, which housed the secretariat of the Palestine Government as well as army headquarters.
Sir John Shaw, Acting High Commissioner in the absence of Lieut. Gen. Sir Alan Cunningham, was at work in his fourth floor office when the explosion occurred, but he was uninjured.
Following the blast, which occurred around noon, a rigid curfew was clamped down on the Jerusalem municipal area. Two men and one woman are reported to have been arrested while flooring the scone of the explosion and others were stepped in the streets and questioned.
It was reported this afternoon that a warning that the hotel was going to be blown up was telephoned to both police and the King David’s management two hours before the explosion.
JEWISH AGENCY AND JEWISH NATIONAL COUNCIL CONDEMN OUTRAGE
The executive committee of the Jewish Agency and the Jewish National Council issued statements tonight expressing their abhorrence of the crime and their sympathy with the victims.
The attack, which apparently was carefully planned, went off with clock-work precision. Ten minutes before the hotel explosion, a grenade was thrown from a speeding car into the office of a taxicab company adjoining the hotel. When the soldiers guarding military headquarters rushed to the scene, several armed men, some in Arab dress, invaded the basement of the hotel and placed explosives and detonators. Kitchen personnel were warned to leave the building.
According to first at reports, a bomb also exploded outside the military headquarters a few minutes before the main blast in an attempt to draw persons from the building, in order to reduce the number of casualties, but the warning was either unnoticed or disregarded.
Hundreds of troops were still at work in the debris tonight attempting to uncover additional bodies. The force of the blast catapulted several medics across the street in front of the hotel and according to eyewitnesses at least one person was blasted into fragments. Wounded soldiers and civilians could be soon crawling out of the remains of the hotel, as women and men trapped inside shouted and screamed for help.
The most prominent casualty was Postmaster General G.D. Kennedy, a veteran official of the Palestine Government. He is understood to have been killed almost instantly by the blast.
A police communique which identified the men who planted the mines as “terrorists,” said that these killed were “from all walks of life and from communities throughout Palestine. Some of the victims came on business to the government offices, while others were clerks, messenger boys and senior military officials.”
Among the victims of the blast was Richard Mowrer, foreign correspondent of the New York Pest, who had just arrived here from Cairo. He was near the hotel when the explosion occurred and suffered a broken log from a falling stone. When ambulances arrived on the scone, he was taken to the Hadassah hospital.