(dpa) - The first suicide bombing in Israel in more than a year killed at least three people, among them two Palestinian attackers, in the southern desert city of Dimona Monday, police confirmed.
One suicide bomber blew himself up in an open-air shopping mall in the town, Police Superintendent Uri Bar-Lev said.
A police officer then spotted a second would-be suicide bomber, but shot him dead before he was able to detonate the bomb he was carrying, he told Israel Radio.
Some 11 other people were evacuated to hospital, Israel's Magen David Adom first aid service said, two of whom were in moderate and one in critical condition.
The Israeli fatality was said to be a woman.
"The very fact that a police officer with guts acted the way he did prevented a much larger attack," Superintendent Bar-Lev told Israel Radio.
The Palestinian Ma'an news agency reported that an anonymous caller claimed responsibility for the attack on behalf of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement.
The caller said al-Aqsa carried out the attack in coordination with the radical left Popular, and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP and DFLP) factions.
Israel's Channel 10 television also mentioned the radical Islamic Hamas movement, while Israel Radio said the Islamic Jihad faction too claimed responsibility. These claims could not immediately be independently confirmed.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was holding security consultations.
It was the first suicide bombing in Israel in more than one year.
A Palestinian suicide bomber killed himself and three Israelis in the southern Israeli Red Sea resort of Eilat on January 29 last year. The armed wings of the radical Islamic Jihad and Abbas' Fatah movement claimed credit for that attack.
Israel's nuclear plant is located near Dimona. Attacks in the remote town have been rare.
Israeli commentators noted the Gaza Strip's breached border with Egypt. Israel had declared a high alert in the south and turned its own border with Egypt into a "closed military zone" as a result of the breached border, which Egyptian security forces closed Sunday using metal obstacles after nearly 12 days of chaos and all but unhindered traffic at the border.
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday told the Israeli cabinet that Israel must urgently build a fence along its long border with Egypt to prevent infiltrations from the Sinai desert.