He said police sappers had found a larger bomb inside the car and were working to defuse it. Police also said they had detained the car's owners, residents of Arab East Jerusalem. "It is clear this attack was on a nationalist basis," Jerusalem police chief Mickey Levy told Channel One television, using the term for attacks by Palestinian militants. In Beirut, a radical Palestinian group calling itself the Popular Army Front Return Battalion claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement.
An ambulance service spokesman said no one had been hurt in the blast in the neighbourhood known as the Russian Compound. Palestinian militant groups have carried out a spate of bombings inside Israel since a Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip erupted nearly 11 months ago after peace talks stalled.
The Russian Compound, thus named because of a Russian church and public buildings dating back to the 19th century, has been targeted before. A powerful car bomb rocked the district in late May but no one was wounded. In the latest bombing in Jerusalem on August 9, a suicide bomber killed himself and 15 others in a pizza parlour filled with families during the crowded lunch hour. Nearly 700 people, including more than 520 Palestinians and close to 150 Israelis, have been killed in the violence.