Gaza: Gunmen loot American school

Vandals smash windows, burn buses, steal computers; bomb wounds 3 Hamas policemen.

gaza american school 224 (photo credit: AP)
gaza american school 224
(photo credit: AP)
Palestinian gunmen went on a rampage inside the American International School in the Gaza Strip Saturday, destroying equipment, looting computers and torching buses. The attack was the second of its kind against the private school since Thursday, when three gunmen fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the building. No casualties were reported in the two pre-dawn attacks, which took place while the school was closed. The attacks, claimed separately by radical Islamic groups in the Gaza Strip, came in protest against US President George W. Bush's visit to Ramallah and Bethlehem. Ribhi Salem, the school director, condemned the attacks as "terrorism against education." He said the second attack took place around 2 a.m. Saturday. "The gunmen raided the school and smashed windows, stole computers and destroyed other equipment," he said. "Then they set fire to six school buses and a private car." The Hamas-controlled Ministry of Interior condemned the attack and vowed to pursue the perpetrators. The school does not have any American teachers. In 2006, two teachers were kidnapped and later released unharmed. The kidnapping prompted many foreign nationals to leave the Gaza Strip. A group called Army of Believers-al-Qaida in Palestine claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack and accused the school of corrupting Palestinian teenagers. A leaflet issued by the hitherto unknown group said: "Polytheists and enemies of Islam are pursuing each day their work to destroy our youths, who are falling by the dozens into the swamps of vice and moral decadence. That is why we must re-establish the truth and warn everyone who might try to corrupt our youths or try to open such places of corruption." The previous attack was claimed by another al-Qaida-inspired group called Warriors of Jerusalem. It said the attack, which took place hours before Bush's meeting in Ramallah with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, was aimed at wiping out the "last symbol of US presence in the Gaza Strip."