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Palestinian group claims responsibility for Jerusalem truck attack

(Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)Israeli soldiers work at the scene where police said a Palestinian rammed his truck into a group of Israeli soldiers on a popular promenade in Jerusalem January 8, 2017.

A Palestinian group calling itself The Martyr of Baha Alyan Collective has claimed responsibility for the attack that killed four Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem on Sunday.

A flatbed truck rammed into a group of Israeli soldiers as they were getting off a bus on a popular tourist promenade in east Jerusalem's Armon Hanatziv neighborhood. Seventeen more people sustained injuries in the attack.

The police identified the suspect as 28-year-old Fadi Qunbar. He was killed by two soldiers and a tour guide who is a colonel in the reserves.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested earlier that the attacker could be a supporter of the Islamic State. The collective, however, said that it had no outside links and that it acted on "political motives."

The group stated that it was not the first attack carried out by one of its members, and it warned that there would be "a torrent of unyielding quality attacks," Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

According to Reuters, the group took its name from a Palestinian who killed three Israelis on a bus in 2015.

The Israeli soldiers raided Qunbar's home and arrested his wife and brothers, who were suspected of aiding him.

Qunbar's uncle, Housam Farah Mahmoud, rejected Netanyahu's claim that his nephew was a supporter of ISIS.

"He wants to try to convince the international community that the Palestinians are ISIS," he said.

"But the Palestinian people have a good cause. They want their state and he is ignoring this right," he added.

Prior to the announcement of the collective, the militant fundamentalist organization Hamas praised the attacker.

"We bless the courageous and heroic truck operation in Jerusalem. It comes within the context of the normal response to the crimes of the Israeli occupation," the group tweeted, according to CNN.

Netanyahu took to Facebook to express his grief over the loss of the four soldiers, three of whom were women.

"I am mourning the loss of our four soldiers who were murdered today in the terrorist attack in Jerusalem. In the name of all the people of Israel, I offer my condolences to their families," the Prime Minister wrote.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan announced that Qunbar's remains will not be returned to his family to prevent an honorary funeral that would encourage more attacks. He said that the body would be buried in a location that would be inaccessible to the family as well as his "supporters."

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