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Two Suicide Bombers Blow Up Pedestrian Mall in Jerusalem

Aired December 1, 2001 - 17:02   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.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And now, we do have more coming into us from Israel. We're joined now by Jerrold Kessel who's got the latest for us on this word of two suicide bombers exploding devices there in Jerusalem. Jerrold, what's the latest?

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Leon, it does appear to be many casualties. No absolute figures as of yet, but there were dozens of ambulances rushing to the scene in central Jerusalem. That's right in the heart of the Western part of the Israeli part of the city where people were out and about in cafes and restaurants in the center of the city. And there were at least two explosions. And we're just hearing now a third explosion in the last few minutes. Now whether that was, in fact, an explosion of a police exploding what was a suspicious car or a third bomb or third bomber not yet clear, but the first indications are two big explosions.

And police believe that there may have been two suicide bombers who let off their bombs in the center of town at a place called Zion Square. That's at the beginning of a pedestrian mall, a very crowded place normally. And I passed by there just about an hour or so ago. And it was quite crowded, quite humming, down in the center of Jerusalem this evening. And we do have reports of lots and lots of people who have been hit in this latest apparent attack by Palestinian militants. And possibly two suicide bombers, possibly a car bomb.

Not yet clear, but a good deal of pandemonium as rescue workers continue to work on the spot. And police are desperately trying to keep people away from the area for fear that there may be more bombs laid in the area -- Leon.

HARRIS: Jerrold, is it clear whether or not this device or devices were actually detonated inside or outside of this mall?

KESSEL: This is an open-air mall. Let me make this plain. It's really a pedestrian mall. It's a walkway that links -- there's a downtown triangle in Jerusalem, perhaps the busiest part of the center of western Jerusalem.

And one police are now saying was indeed a car bomb. The other, there was another explosion nearby. These were outside. One man or eyewitness was reporting now just a few minutes ago over Israeli radio, and saying he heard that explosion right outside a small ice cream parlor in the street. And there have been dozens of people injured, according to Israeli reporters right on the spot, as ambulances speed into the area and speed away from there.

But it does as if that there were two suicide bombers. That's the early estimate of the Israeli police at this stage and considerable damage to the small stores and restaurants and a varied area in that downtown area, downtown Jerusalem, and very, very many people have been injured and perhaps killed.

HARRIS: Jerrold, just to clarify one last point here, you're saying one car bomb that has been confirmed by the police? Are we talking one car bomb and two bombers? Can you just clarify that for us?

KESSEL: Early minutes yet. And the police not absolutely sure. That was the eyewitness saying he believed he saw a car bomb. The police are still working on the presumption that there were suicide bombers perhaps in a car, perhaps outside.

There been have been reports in the last 10 minutes, just as I've been talking to you, of a third explosion. And there's some suggestion that that may have been a controlled explosion a little bit away, perhaps two to three blocks away, that police may have been investigating a suspicious car on the site. We'll try to clarify this in the next few minutes for you.

HARRIS: All right. Thank you very much. Jerrold Kessel working that story for us in Jerusalem. And also get back to us, Jerrold, when you get more information about casualties in that particular area, since you said it was very crowded just an hour ago.

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