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Car bomb injures several in Tel Aviv, police say 'crime-related'

A bomb has exploded near the Israeli Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, injuring several people. Police have said it was not terrorism-related.

epa03529837 Police begin to cordon off a street in Tel Aviv as a car burns following an explosion, in Tel Avic, Israel, 10 January 2013, that police say is crime-related. At least seven people were injured in the blast that police say was aimed against Israeli crime boss Nissim Alperon, who survived the bombing against his car. Police say a man on a motorcycle drove up to the car and placed a bomb on the vehicle which then exploded. Alperon has survived nine previous hit attempts, according to police. Soldiers at a Defence Ministry compound, near the scene of the blast, were ordered to remain in their offices. EPA/ROMINA ROTHSCHILD BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE FROM MOBILE PHONE SOURCE +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

Israel Autobombe in Tel Aviv

The blast in one of the main thoroughfares of the metropolitan city on Thursday was attributed by police to criminal activity, not terrorism, as has been often the case in the Middle Eastern country.

"The main direction of suspicion is it was criminal, a settling of accounts," police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told reporters.

The car belonged to crime ring kingpin Nissim Alperon, according to Israel Radio.

Television footage showed a car parked at the edge of a street engulfed in flames, billowing large black clouds of smoke into traffic. Eyewitnesses reported seeing a motorcycle driver attach an explosive device to a black Mazda vehicle in which Alperon was believed to be sitting.

The people in the car managed to run away before the explosion.

Alperon has reportedly escaped eight previous assassination attempts.

Initial reports indicated that the injuries of several people near the Defence Ministry in Menachem Begin Street were minor. No deaths had been reported.

In November, a bomb blast injured at least 15 people in the same area of Tel Aviv. That incident occurred as Israel was trying to negotiate a ceasefire between its forces and the militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. Police later arrested an Arab Israeli man in connection with the case, as well as several Palestinians they said had links to the Islamist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

kms/rg (AFP, Reuters, dpa, dapd)