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In Israel, Four Dead, 30 Injured After Bomb Rips Through Crowded Mall

Aired May 18, 2001 - 05:30   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JASON CARROLL, CNN ANCHOR: We have late breaking word of a deadly bombing attack at an Israeli shopping mall.

LINDA STOUFFER, CNN ANCHOR: We are just, at this moment, getting in our first pictures of this attack.

We want to take you straight to CNN's Mike Hanna, who's in Jerusalem.

Mike, what are you able to tell us?

MIKE HANNA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: People are now saying that four people have been killed in the bomb explosion. The explosion occurred in the coastal city of Netanya, just north of Tel Aviv.

According to eyewitnesses, a man attempted to gain access to a mall. However, he was refused entry by a security guard. Witnesses then say that he detonated explosives, which appeared to be strapped to his body. It's understood that more than 30 people have been wounded. Four people say police have been killed. According to eyewitnesses, too, the man allegedly carrying the explosives was also killed in the blast.

So the situation now, the area has been cordoned off by police, searching the facility for any secondary bombs that may be in place. Eyewitnesses said that the explosion was massive. Huge clouds of black smoke billowed into the air in the wake of the bomb. The police now say that four people have been killed, at this point. More than 30 people are confirmed to be injured.

We've been looking at unedited pictures coming in from Israeli television showing the scene in Netanya, outside the shopping mall where the explosion took place.

Friday morning, of course, is very busy in terms of people going to the mall, for shopping. The Sabbath begins in a matter of hours. Many people are in the mall on this particular day. So the situation was very crowded, with many shoppers in the vicinity.

Once again, we say police confirm four people killed in the explosion and more than 30 people injured.

Back to you. STOUFFER: Mike, I have a quick question for you: When you say four people were killed, does that include the suicide bomber? And at this point, do we have any idea who he was?

HANNA: At this stage, police are not confirming that that figure of four includes the person carrying the explosives. No claims of responsibility have come yet. In the past, militants from the Islamic Jihad or the Hamas movement have claimed responsibility for similar attacks.

Netanya itself has been the scene of a number of attacks, at least 10 attacks in the past few months, this now yet another one in a long chain of attacks on civilian targets within Israel. But at this stage, there are no claims of responsibility from any party.

CARROLL: And Mike, Israeli security forces had been on high alert for some time, so this probably was not unexpected in some ways.

HANNA: Very much so. Israeli security forces have been warning for a long period of time of the possibility of bomb attacks on Israeli civilian targets. So this attack is not unexpected. There has been intense security in place throughout Israel, this, obviously, resulting from the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

There have been a number of bomb attacks in the more than seven months of this ongoing conflict. This attack, which according to police, has claimed four lives, just apparently another in a long chain.

CARROLL: All right, Mike. That's Mike Hanna reporting to us.

Just to recap a little bit for you here, a bomb blast has just occurred in the town of Netanya. That is north of Tel Aviv. A man, apparently, walked into a mall -- was right outside a mall -- with explosives attached to his body. He detonated those explosives.

We have an update on the numbers: Four people are dead; 30 are hurt. The mall, again, was very crowded this morning. It was just before the Sabbath, so a lot of people were out there.

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