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Bush condemns Gaza attack
( 2003-10-16 04:51) (Agencies)

US President George W. Bush condemned an attack that killed three Americans in Gaza on Wednesday and blamed the violence on the failure of the Palestinians to create an effective security force.

In a written statement issued as he arrived on a visit to California, Bush said, "We are working closely with the appropriate officials to bring the terrorists to justice."

Bush was told about the attack while he was still in the White House before leaving on his trip, which take him to Asia later this week.

"I condemn in the strongest terms the vicious act of terrorism directed against Americans in Gaza today," he said.

Bush has refused to deal with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat because he said the Palestinian leader has refused to crack down against those responsible for suicide attacks against Israel.

"Palestinian authorities should have acted long ago to fight terror in all its forms," Bush said. "The failure to create effective Palestinian security forces dedicated to fighting terror continues to cost lives."

Bush renewed his call for an empowered Palestinian prime minister who controls all security forces, which he called "reforms that continue to be blocked by Yasser Arafat."

"The failure to undertake these reforms and dismantle the terrorist organizations constitutes the greatest obstacle to achieving the Palestinian people's dream of statehood," he said.

The US-backed road map for achieving Middle East peace has been stalled by violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

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