CNN BREAKING NEWS
Interview With Spokesman for U.N. Special Envoy Sergio de Mello
Aired August 19, 2003 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: First this hour, terrorism in Baghdad. Right now, at least 14 people are dead, dozens more wounded, and the U.N. envoy is trapped in the wreckage of a suicide bombing aimed at this Baghdad headquarters.
CNN's Jane Arraf has reached the scene of the blast. She joins us live with the latest -- Jane.
JANE ARRAF, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF: Kyra, in the darkness behind us, in that darkened building that effort is continuing -- to reach people who are trapped in that rubble, the rubble from what appear to be a massive car bomb set off in a cement truck, when this building, the headquarters of the U.N. here for many years, was crowded with U.N. people and others as well.
Now, we have with us the spokesman for the U.N. special envoy, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who is still trapped in there.
Spokesman Mr. Salim Lone, can you tell us what's going on there now?
SALIM LONE, U.N. SPOKESMAN: Well, as you know, we are trying desperately to remove him from the rubble. He certainly was OK when the bomb blast took place, and people gave him water and other things.
But, at the moment, all I can say is he's very gravely injured, and we are praying for him and for some others who are trapped with him. But, you know, we have already lost some wonderful, wonderful people. At least 13 people have died, amongst them some very wonderful friends of mine who came here to help the people of Iraq.
To attack us -- we are unarmed. We don't have a lot of security, as this bomb shows. We don't want a lot of security, because we are here to help the people of Iraq who have suffered so much for so long. And to attack us is an unspeakable crime. And it wasn't just those who came from around the world. Every one of us who is here from outside knew that we were taking a risk, but we still came, because we feel for the people of Iraq. But there are also some wonderful Iraqis who died here today, so it just wasn't us.
ARRAF: How many people are trapped in there now, do you know?
LONE: Well, at least three that we know of, and maybe more. It is difficult to tell.
ARRAF: You said Mr. Vieira de Mello was gravely injured. Is he trapped in there?
LONE: Yes, he is very much trapped, and we've been trying all day. It's just been agonizing. We're just making every effort to somehow pull him out, and we have not been able to do it so far. But we think we have made some very good progress, and he might soon be removed from the rubble.
But it is such a devastating experience to be so hated, when all you're trying to do is to help. I mean, every one of them who died was here as a humanitarian.
In addition, Sergio Vieira de Mello, he's here because of a Security Council resolution that asked the United Nations to help the Americans conclude this occupation as early as possible. In fact, Kofi Annan has repeatedly said that -- that we are here to help bring the occupation to an end under the authority of the Security Council, and Sergio Vieira de Mello said it repeatedly. So, why would they target us?
I think the whole world is horrified. The president of the Security Council, which is held by Syria, has issued a very strong statement condemning this attack. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) himself has issued a very strong statement.
It is a mystery. Why would they want to attack us? You know, we had lost some people here, some colleagues in shootings as we were driving in cars -- as they were driving in cars. But we were never sure that they were specifically targeting the United Nations. We were worried, and we certainly had many discussions on, should we do much more than we are doing? And we concluded no. The United Nations cannot work behind barbed fences and soldiers armed with machine guns all around. So, we had, of our own choice -- we did not want a huge American presence, a U.S. Army presence outside and around the building.
ARRAF: Thank you very much. Thank you.
That was Salim Lone, who is the spokesman for the U.N. special envoy, still trapped in the building behind us, in that rubble after that massive -- of what appeared to be a truck bomb exploded -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Our Jane Arraf, thank you. Quite a heartfelt testimony from Salim. Thank you very much.
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