Management & Operations

Attacks on European public transport escalate

Posted on March 1, 2001

In the span of three days in February, a bus attack killed eight in Israel, a bus bombing killed 10 in Yugoslavia and explosions near the track shut down a main railway line in Ireland. Those were just a few of the increasing attacks on public transport recently experienced by overseas countries. While most of the attacks were a product of ethnic extremists, others targeted tourists. In the attack in Azur, Israel, a Palestinian driver allegedly upset about weeks of Mideast violence rammed his bus into a packed bus stop. The attack killed seven Israeli soldiers and a civilian in what is regarded the deadliest Palestinian attack in four years. Violence in the country has risen since Ariel Sharon was elected prime minister in February. The driver, Abu Olbeh, was said to have no ties to any Palestinian faction but was upset with the high number of Palestenian casualties in clashes with Israel. Olbeh had been driving Palestinian workers from Gaza to jobs in Israel for five years as an employee of Israeli bus company Egged. The bomb attack in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, that killed 10 and injured more than 40 is believed by the Yugoslavian government to be part of an organized terror campaign. The bus exploded after the remote-controlled bomb detonated under it. A cause for the bombing in Ireland is unknown, though Catholic paramilitary groups dissatisfied with Northern Ireland’s peace process have targeted the line in the past. The main railway between Belfast and Dublin was closed for the day. Also this year: In Pakistan, eight people were wounded after a passenger bus was attacked and in India, four were killed and 35 were wounded when a passenger bus ran over a land mine. An ambush on a bus in Nairobi, Kenya, killed 11 passengers and in Ankara, Turkey, gunmen wounded two people in an attack on a tourist bus. While it is often difficult to determine who is responsible for such acts of violence, those caught are punished accordingly. In January, China executed a man who set off three explosions on railway lines in the hope of stealing passengers’ money. He was convicted of detonating devices, two in November 1999 and one last January, on the Beijing-Guangzhou line. His actions caused two passenger trains to derail and halted services three times, causing a total economic loss of more than $300,000. A report by a local newspaper said the man was hoping to collect money left behind by distraught or injured passengers following the derailments.

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