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Breaking News

Jerusalem Rocked by Second Bomb Blast

Aired March 27, 2001 - 7:01 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: First, we go to the Middle East, where a bomb blast has rocked Jerusalem for the second time just today.

CNN's Jerrold Kessel is in Jerusalem with the latest on that story - Jerrold.

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Carol.

And one person is said to be killed and two in critical condition in a bomb blast just off side a bus in the northeastern part of Jerusalem. And according to the latest version that the Israeli police are patching together now from this incident, a man got aboard a bus and aroused the suspicion of some of the travelers. He quickly disembarked from the bus.

And then there was the explosion. And he is the dead man, according to the Israeli police, who now presume he was a suicide bomber who had planned to blow himself up aboard the bus. There are also two people in critical condition and a number more likely hurt in that explosion -- this the second of bombings today in Jerusalem -- just as the early morning rush hour was getting going in a busy commercial center, a district in the southeastern parts of Jerusalem, another explosion there inside a car -- the police say very powerful debris of explosives in that car.

It blew up as a bus passed by. But only four people were hurt there: the driver suffering what is called moderate injuries; the others lightly hurt in that incident. Police said it could have been far worse had it blown up a half-an-hour later when the busy rush hour would have been in full flow and there had been a lot of people on the sidewalk -- all this creating a good deal of tension and anger boiling and boiling, particularly on the Israeli side, in the wake of an incident yesterday in the divided West Bank town of Hebron.

A 10-month-old Jewish infant was shot and killed, Israel says, by a Palestinian sniper operating from a hillside overlooking the town of Hebron, territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority. And, according to Israel, the sniper deliberately targeted the baby girl, who was with her parents, Jewish settlers, in the courtyard of one of the few small Jewish settler enclaves in that divided town.

Tension there very great this morning: Israel has imposed a curfew on all the Palestinians living in the part of the town that it controls, a cordon around the entire Hebron, a population of 120,000 -- and the tension building, as Jewish settlers have been seeking to go on a rampage against the Palestinians living in the town and have been prevented by the Israeli army, who has said -- whose officers have said that the settlers should allow the army to do its work.

And that is the situation, with a good deal of tension in -- both in Hebron and there in Jerusalem with these two explosions -- Carol.

LIN: Jerrold, focusing on those explosions: Has anyone taken responsibility for either of these explosions? And is it in any way tied with the Arab summit meeting in Jordan today?

KESSEL: Well, the second explosion next to that bus -- would now presume to be a suicide bomber -- come -- came just in the last half- hour. There's been no claim or reference to it. But the first explosion of that presumed car bomb in the southern part of Jerusalem, there was responsibility taken, both by faxes to international agencies in -- news agencies in Lebanon, and a telephone call to an international agency here in Jerusalem by the radical Islamic group Islamic Jihad.

And Israelis had been bracing and saying that, in advance of the Arab summit now convening in Amman, Jordan, that there would be a rash of violence -- the Israelis saying, regretfully, from their point of view, that that has been borne out. There has certainly been violence both yesterday and today. And it could be only the start of things to come, say people on both sides.

LIN: All right, Jerrold Kessel reporting live from Jerusalem -- clearly a challenge for the new prime minister, who has promised more security for Israel -- Colleen.

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