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Explosion Started by Fire Causes Estimated Il 3 M Damages in Ashdod

A fire that was started by an explosion in a clothing store early yesterday in Ashdod’s shopping center destroyed five stores and caused an estimated IL 3 million in damages, according to the police. The shops were closed and there were no casualties. Police attributed the explosion to either faulty electrical wiring in the clothing store which ignited chemicals on the premises, or to an underworld “protection” gang. They discounted a report from Beirut by the Palestinian news agency WAFA that the blast had been caused by terrorist activity.

Another explosion yesterday in the northern Sinai town of El Arish killed a six-year-old Arab boy and injured three other children, military sources reported. The cause of the explosion in an Arab house could not be immediately determined.

12 ARRESTED IN NETANYA INCIDENT

Meanwhile, five men have been arrested in connection with a grenade blast last Wednesday in a Netanya discotheque which killed five people and injured 21. The five men, including an army deserter who allegedly stole a quantity of weapons and grenades, were arrested Friday and remanded for 10 days, together with seven other suspects in the attack. Police had attributed the discotheque blast to an underworld gang war.

At a memorial meeting Thursday night for the blast victims, Netanya Mayor Avraham Bar-Menashe said hoodlums were being treated too leniently despite the fact that they were “as dangerous to our society as an external enemy.” Police Minister Shlomo Hillel pledged that a nationwide campaign against hooliganism would be stepped up.

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