From AP, with thanks to Jean-Luc:
ISRAELI troops yesterday arrested a boy, 12, who didn’t know he had a bomb in his schoolbag.
Security officials said the boy, who worked as a porter helping to carry the belongings of Palestinians forbidden to drive through a Nablus checkpoint, was hired to carry baggage by militants linked to Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement.
But he did not know the contents of the backpack.
The commander of the army unit that caught the boy said soldiers’ suspicions were aroused by the weight of the school bag. When they examined it, they found a bomb, laced with nuts and bolts to increase its killing power.
“It was a pretty serious bomb, between 7kg and 10kg,” the officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Guy, said. “It was ready for detonation, apparently with a mobile phone.”
Officials said the militants planned to explode it as the boy passed through the checkpoint, but it failed because of a technical fault. The explosion would have killed the boy and nearby soldiers.
Security sources said the boy was freed after several hours’ questioning.
Israeli security officials said the army had received intelligence warnings of an attempt to mount an attack from Nablus.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon yesterday ruled out peace talks with Palestinians and began considering ways to retaliate for a weekend double suicide bombing that killed 10 Israelis.
“Israel will have to act according to its own understanding alone,” he said, referring to his proposal for a unilateral withdrawal from most or all of Gaza, removal of Jewish settlements, and a realignment in the West Bank that would include evacuating some settlements and imposing a border.