( AFP )- US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice condemned Thursday's attack on a religious school in predominantly Jewish west Jerusalem as an "act of terror and depravity."
"The United States condemns tonight's act of terror and depravity," Rice said in Brussels for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers at the end of trip that also took her to the Middle East.
"This barbarous act has no place among civilized peoples and shocks the conscience of all peace loving nations," she said, adding: "There is no cause that could ever justify this action."
At least eight people were killed on Thursday night when a Palestinian gunman opened fire inside a Jewish religious school in Jerusalem in an attack threatening peace efforts amid escalating violence.
"I spoke with Foreign Minister (Tzipi) Livni to express my condolences to the people of Israel and the families of the victims of the attack tonight against rabbinical students at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem," Rice said.
The Jerusalem attack came after more than a week of flaring Israeli-Palestinian violence in and around the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, where more than 130 Palestinians have been killed in eight days.
In Beirut, Hezbollah's television announced that the authors of the Jerusalem attack were members of a previously unknown group called "Phalange of Free Men of Galilee -- Groups of the Martyr Imad Mughnieh and Martyrs of Gaza."
The claim was made in a tag line running across the bottom of the screen, and no further details were immediately given. Hezbollah official Nawaf Moussaoui, reached by AFP, said he had no comment on the attack.
Imad Mughnieh was a top Hezbollah commander assassinated in a Damascus bombing on February 12.