JERUSALEM, April 12 (AP) - Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert was buying bread. Secretary of State Powell was at a nearby helipad. And Awadallah Hussein had just pulled up in front of Jerusalem's main market when the thunderous blast of a suicide bomber sent fire into the front of his bus.

Olmert ran through the crowds to help. Powell flew overhead and Hussein went to the hospital with dozens more injured by the attack which left six Israelis and the female bomber dead.

Friday was the sixth time the Mahane Yehuda market had been hit.

It's known to Israelis as the "shuk,"--a decades-old outdoor maze of stalls, where shoppers bump shoulders and rough, stubble-faced hawkers lean out over crates of red tomatoes, spices and silver fish, shouting out the best prices.

The mesh of winding lanes and dark tunnels packed into a few blocks draws religious Jews who turn over loaves of bread in search of tags certifying strict kosher observance, hip young Israelis searching for vegetarian specialties, middle-class office workers and elderly pensioners.

Over the years, it has also drawn Palestinian suicide bombers, who blend into the anonymity of the crowd before detonating explosives.

On Friday afternoon, just before the start of the Jewish Sabbath, a female suicide bomber stepped into the crowd, blowing herself up near the heavily guarded market entrance, killing six people and wounding 84.

The market was first bombed in 1968. Since then, dozens of Israelis have been killed there. The last attack came on Nov. 2, 2000--a month after Israeli-Palestinian battles began again--when a car bomb thundered on a nearby street, killing two Israelis and injuring a dozen.

Friday's bombing came at a crucial moment in the conflict--Powell is here trying to bring the two peoples to a cease-fire.

The secretary of state was at a nearby helipad when the bomber struck and a helicopter taking him to Israel's tense border with Lebanon flew over the scene of the attack.

First reports said the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, a militia linked to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, claimed responsibility.

At the time of the blast, the market was packed with shoppers hunting for pre-Sabbath bargains. Glass shards, twisted metal, blood and body parts were strewn across the asphalt of Jerusalem's main Jaffa Street. Bloodied people, some of their faces blackened by the blast, staggered from the scene. Rescue workers raced the wounded on stretchers to waiting ambulances.

A shopper, who gave only her first name, Elisheva, frantically tore pieces of clothing to use as bandages and gathered bottles of water for the wounded. Blood flecked her hands and the sleeves of her blue sweat shirt.

"I was holding a girl, who was gushing blood from her face," she said, crying. "I think she'll be OK. She said to me, 'Today is my 17th birthday. Why is this happening?' We were just holding each other and crying and crying."

The bomb went off just as the No. 6 bus pulled up to the market. The driver, Hussein, had just opened the door when the blast sent fire into the front of the bus. Bits of metal cut his forehead.

From his hospital bed, Hussein, an Arab, recalled how he hustled wounded passengers out of the bus' blown out back windows.

Police and rescue crews sorted through a street dotted with apples and oranges, flowers and broken watermelons for torn bodies that would be placed in black plastic bags.

Mayor Olmert was buying bread at a nearby shop when the blast went off, and he ran to the scene. ``It shocks me that there is an international campaign to prevent Israel from fighting terror and to make it succumb to terror,'' Olmert said, referring to pressure on Israel to end a two-week military offensive aimed at crushing Palestinian militant networks.

The market was swiftly deserted after the blast. Trash collectors at the market, many of them Arabs, stared at the wreckage. With a whisper, one of them warned a friend not to speak Arabic, fearing that the angry crowd might turn on them.

After more than 30 years of attacks, some hardened shopkeepers and market-goers expressed a mix of frustration and apathy, part of a grim routine. "It was a bomb; what can I tell you?" an olive vendor said with a shrug as he walked away.

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