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Huge Blast Rocks Central Kabul

Aired September 5, 2002 - 07:06   ET

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


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Right now, we go back to Afghanistan, where our own Christiane Amanpour is on the ground to further confirm news of a major explosion in the central business district of the Afghan capital.
Christiane -- what do you know? Good morning.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Paula.

Well, there was an explosion, and eyewitnesses have been telling CNN that it took place just outside, just near the Ministry of Information and Culture in that busy business district in the center part of this capital.

According to what eyewitnesses are telling us now, it appears that there were two explosions. One small explosion followed by a much larger one, which caused casualties.

We don't yet have independent confirmation of the number of casualties, but the Reuters News Service is reporting that there are perhaps five people dead, and maybe even 20 people wounded. They have been taken to the Italian Emergency Hospital in this city, and we are, right now, chasing that down to check on the number and the severity of those causalities.

Now, we have heard from eyewitnesses a rather complicated story. It appears that, according to the eyewitnesses who have been talking to us, that a cyclist they saw going past the Ministry of Information and Culture dropping what turned out to be explosive materials. Apparently, when the cyclist picked these materials up, that small first explosion happened. And then as he was passing a car with these explosives, apparently, another bigger explosion happened, which caused the fatalities.

I stress that these are initial reports from the eyewitnesses. All we know for very sure is that there has been a large explosion, and it has caused casualties.

There are thousands of people on any given day, or at least hundreds of people around there on any given day, and they are fleeing the area. And indeed, although some are still there, police are trying, as best they can, to keep people away from the area where that has taken place.

There has been a series of these much smaller explosions in Kabul over the last few days and weeks. It's very difficult to pinpoint exactly what they are, but officials here have been warning us that they are expecting some trouble around the anniversary of September 11. We're not sure whether this is connected, but certainly, everybody here is vigilant and alert -- Paula.

ZAHN: So, Christiane, based on your description of the area, it seems pretty obvious that this area might have been targeted because of the density of population?

AMANPOUR: Well, it's very unclear at the moment. There have been these explosions in various parts of the city, some in back streets and not harmful at all, and of course, no casualties.

Today, obviously, it was in the middle of a busy district. We still have to make sure exactly how and why that happened, but it does appear that it did take place in a very crowded business area, yes.

ZAHN: Christiane Amanpour, we're going to let you go to collect more information on this breaking news out of Afghanistan. Christiane, thanks so much for that report.

Just once again, for those of you who are just joining us, there has been a powerful minor explosion reported, followed by a major explosion in an area not far from the central business district in Kabul. As soon as Christiane gets more information, we'll bring it to you live.

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