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UN chief fears Jerusalem attack could ignite more violence

© AFP | An Israeli security forces member stands guard in Jerusalem's Old City following a deadly shooting attack -- UN Security-General Antonio Guterres has urged all sides to avoid escalation

UNITED NATIONS (UNITED STATES) (AFP) - 

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Friday that an attack that killed two Israeli police officers in Jerusalem could ignite more violence and said all sides must avoid escalation.

Three attackers opened fire near the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem's Old City on Friday, killing the officers, and the police immediately shot them dead in one of the most serious incidents in the city in recent years.

Guterres condemned the attack, adding: "This incident has the potential to ignite further violence. All must act responsibly to avoid escalation."

The UN chief praised Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for swiftly condemning the violence and offering assurances that the holy sites in Jerusalem will be respected.

"The sanctity of religious sites should be respected as places for reflection, not violence," Guterres said.

Security forces locked down the area and the Al-Aqsa mosque was closed to Friday prayers after the attack in a highly unusual move.

© 2017 AFP