By YAAKOV LAPPIN
Mar 21, 2009 22:05 | Updated Mar 22, 2009 0:22
A major terrorist car bombing was averted at a Haifa mall on Saturday night when one of several explosive devices hidden in a parked vehicle malfunctioned.
"We believe this is a terrorist incident," a police statement said.
After being alerted by an employee of the Lev Hamifratz shopping center, who reported hearing an explosion at about 8:30 p.m., police sappers were dispatched to scan the area.
The sappers found a partially exploded bomb in the trunk of a white Subaru car which was parked outside the shopping center.
A further search of the vehicle uncovered several more unexploded bombs, which were neutralized by the sappers. No one was injured.
It was not immediately clear how the vehicle managed to get past the security checks at the mall entrance. The car was registered to a woman who lives in Jerusalem, but police would not release her identity.
Police immediately moved to evacuate the mall, which was filled with shoppers, and sealed off the area.
A major road adjacent to the mall was also closed to traffic, as police went on high alert across the Haifa area. Roadblocks were erected and the police presence was increased in crowded areas.
Northern Police spokesman Moshe Weitzman told The Jerusalem Post that "dozens of kilograms of explosives" were uncovered in the car.
"We have gone on alert and will remain prepared," Weitzman said.
A joint police-Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) meeting was held in the hours following the incident.
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