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Suicide Bombing in Jerusalem Shopping Area

Aired March 21, 2002 - 09:42   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.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: We have a breaking story in Jerusalem. There has apparently been another suicide bombing. These are the first pictures coming in from the scene.

CNN's Mike Hanna was on live with us just a few minutes ago and reported that this happened at a busy intersection in a crowded shopping district. We could hear the ambulance sirens in the background as Mike was delivering this preliminary report to us. Israeli radio is reporting that there have been casualties. You can see ambulances on the scene. These pictures just got in via satellite literally moments ago.

But there are now, it's been confirmed, there are casualties. We don't know how many. Ironically, this is happening on the morning that Vice President Cheney was meeting with President Bush at the White House, talking about his recently concluded Middle East trip and his efforts to get a cease-fire under way.

Christiane Amanpour is on the telephone now, and she is at the bomb site in Jerusalem.

Christiane, what can you tell us?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jack we're here in downtown West Jerusalem on King George Street, which is where the bomb went off. We have very preliminary and sketchy information, because as of yet the official spokesman are basically keeping everybody away from the site. The bomb disposal units are here. The ambulances are here. The fire engines are here.

What we can tell you all we have heard on the radio, which is they believe it was a suicide bomber. They believe that several people were injured. We have seen ourselves several people who were -- if you like, shell shocked. They did not appear to have any life- threatening injuries. They've been taken off, some being helped walk off, some being helped by wheelchair, being taken away from the scene. It is, as you can imagine, a scene of panic and of some pandemonium. There are quite a few people running away as you can imagine, and there a lot of security personnel and medical personal on the scene.

We have not, as I say, any details at the moment how many casualties, whether or not there was anyone other than suicide bomber who was killed. But we do know that we have heard from Israeli press reports that there were several people injured, and we will have to wait to get specific numbers and bring those to you as we can.

Of course this happened a day after there was a suicide bombing in Israel yesterday, in which seven people killed aboard a bus and several more -- more than dozen were injured.

Also happened during a time when the two sides, Palestinian and Israeli security officials, are meeting and have been meeting to try to hammer out a cease-fire agreement or to implement the Tenet agreement for a cease-fire and a cessation of hostilities -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Christiane, the hospital officials have confirmed to CNN that seven people at least have been seriously injured in all this. One can only wonder now, Vice President Cheney did not meet with Yasser Arafat during his recently concluded trip to world, saying upon his return that Mr. Arafat has to do something to display his willingness to end the violence before any dialogue can go forward, and one just would wonder based on what's going on here this morning whether or not that doesn't represent a bit of a giant setback to any dialogue with Arafat over some kind of lasting end to this kind of situation over there.

AMANPOUR: Well, you're absolutely right. This is, obviously, a setback. And particularly, since the timeframe was in any event exceptionally short for Arafat to do what the Americans had basically demanded, and that was to publicly order a cease-fire, a cessation of hostilities, to stop the incitement, and to be able to verifiably measure that these orders have been taken, and that there will be no more violence.

In a conversation that I had with the Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres yesterday, I asked, you know, what about this issue of continuing to meet now with the security officials as, in fact, there was a suicide bombing yesterday? And he has always said that the people who do not want the peace to go ahead are the ones who are doing the talking with their violence.

Of course for us it remains to be seen who claims responsibility for this. If it an armed group or militant group, if you like, of Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, it doesn't bode well at all for his ability to comply with the cease-fire demands. If, on the other hand, it is Islamic Jihad or Hamas, who are historically opposed to the peace agreement, it remains to be seen how the Israeli government, the U.S. mediator Anthony Zinni, and U.S. officials take this as they try to hammer out a cease-fire, not only a cease-fire, but also a movement toward political track, which is what the Palestinians have wanted, and which is what...

CAFFERTY: We have lost Christiane Amanpour's audio. She was reporting live from the scene of this latest suicide bombing in Jerusalem. And apparently, we have lost the satellite and the cell phone. She was talking about the setback this obviously presents to those who are hopeful of some sort of cessation of the violence in the Middle East. We have learned now at CNN, one woman has died, in addition to the bomber, who was killed. It was a suicide bombing. One woman is dead, at least seven seriously injured according to hospital sources, in a bombing in a crowded shopping district in Jerusalem.

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