- The Washington Times - Monday, January 6, 2003

WASHINGTON, Jan. 6 (UPI) — The White House on Monday criticized Iraqi President Saddam Hussein for praising the suicide bombers who killed 23 people and injured more than 100 others in an immigrant section of Tel Aviv.

The praise from Saddam, delivered in a televised address to mark Iraq Army Day, was "horrific," the White House said.

"There is no excuse for suicide bombers," spokesman Ari Fleischer said. "For Saddam Hussein to publicly praise those who take innocent life is horrific."

The dual bombings, within moments of each other, constituted the worst terrorist attack in Israel in the past nine months.

One bombing, during the evening rush hour, occurred at a bus station; the other in a pedestrian shopping mall about 600 meters (656 yards) away.

Most of the victims were said to be foreign workers.

Both Islamic Jihad and the al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which has links to Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, have claimed responsibility.

"We salute the heroic, struggling people of Palestine and every free man and woman of martyrdom who responds to the Zionist aggression, disappointing the evil American administration who allied themselves with this disfigured entity (Israel)," Saddam said.

President George W. Bush condemned the attacks, calling them "despicable."

Israel has a right to defend itself, the White House said, but again urged that it be "mindful of the consequences" of its actions of the chances of obtaining peace in the region.

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