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Israeli police ask public for help in search for gunman

Police in Tel Aviv have appealed for information in their search for a gunman involved in a shooting that left two people dead. Staff has been added to the police telephone line to allow a quick response to any calls.

The massive manhunt for a man who fired into a busy bar in central Tel Aviv was underway on Saturday, with police keen for clues about the culprit's whereabouts.

"The Israeli Police calls on the public to remain alert and not to hesitate to report immediately about any suspicious scenario or person," the police said in a statement on Saturday.

The suspect killed two people and wounded seven. More than 24 hours after the deadly incident, the shooter remained at large, with thousands of police officers searching in the city and beyond.

The suspect was believed to be an Israeli citizen aged around 29 from the northern Arab town of Arara, which lies south-east of Haifa.

He was sentenced in the past to five years in jail for trying to snatch the weapon of a soldier as he sought to avenge the killing of a cousin by an Israeli police officer during a car-theft-related house raid, Israel Radio said.

Relatives of the suspect from the town of Arara told the press they recognized the man from CCTV footage aired on news reports. They expressed outrage at the shooting.

The suspect's father told reporters on Saturday: "I didn't educate him this way. I am sorry for what he did. When I heard about the incident, I personally, on my own initiative, went to the station and assisted all the security forces in every direction."

Many Israelis lit candles on the site of the shooting in Dizengoff Street on Saturday.

Police said they were investigating possible motives for the attack which occurred amid more than three months of increased Israeli-Palestinian violence. More than 20 Israelis and 140 Palestinians have died in the past three months.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said the motive for the attack was unclear but authorities were assuming it was a terrorist attack.

das/rc (dpa, AP)

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