Palestinian throws acid on Israelis, including children: army

JERUSALEM (AFP) - A Palestinian threw acid at a group of Israelis in the southern West Bank on Friday before being shot and wounded, the army said.

"A vehicle carrying a family with four girls picked up a hitchhiker" near a checkpoint outside Bethlehem and close to the Gush Etzion settlement area, the army said in a statement. "The hitchhiker threw acid on the passengers, injuring them lightly."

The attacker exited the vehicle and was shot in the leg by a civilian and then arrested. It was unclear how seriously he was wounded.

Israeli public radio said a man and three children were injured in the attack. The Israelis were taken to hospital, an AFP photographer said, and emergency services confirmed they had suffered light wounds.

The incident came at a time of high tensions in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, where a senior Palestinian official died in a confrontation with Israeli troops on Wednesday.

The Palestinian leadership blamed Israel for Ziad Abu Ein's death and has threatened a response, amid speculation the Palestinian Authority would suspend security coordination with Israel in the West Bank.

Israeli ministers have called for calm, and US Secretary of State John Kerry is to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Rome on Sunday as part of efforts to defuse tensions.

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