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Three of Four Suspects Accused in the Concert Attack in Moscow Pleads Guilty; Trump to Face Hush Money Charges and a Make-or-Break Bond Deadline for his Properties; U.S. and Israeli Officials to Meet in Washington to Discuss Aid and Hostages; CNN Deeps Dive Inside a Dangerous Journey to Escape Haiti; 137 Students Rescued in Kaduna, Nigeria After Being Abducted for Weeks; France's Century-Old Cafe Waiter Race Returns After a 13-Year Hiatus. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired March 25, 2024 - 03:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world. You are watching "CNN Newsroom" and I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, three of the four men facing terrorism charges in the concert hall attack near Moscow have entered guilty pleas. It comes as mourners gather outside the venue to pay their respects to the dozens killed.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to be in a New York courtroom in a few hours as his lawyers could ask for a postponement or even a dismissal of the criminal charges in a hush-money case.

And U.S. and Israeli officials will meet in Washington today to discuss humanitarian aid in Gaza and the hostages still being held.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Live from Atlanta, this is "CNN Newsroom" with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Thanks for joining us. The four men accused of killing more than 130 people at a concert hall outside Moscow have gone before a judge.

Each had a number of visible injuries. One was in a wheelchair and appeared non-responsive. Three of the men entered guilty pleas. All are being held in pre-trial detention. Investigators say the men are from Tajikistan and have been in Russia on either temporary or expired visas.

Outside the concert hall, thousands of people gathered in the rain on Sunday to remember the victims. The death toll from the terror attack now stands at 137. More than 100 others are injured.

CNN chief global affairs correspondent Matthew Chance was at Sunday's makeshift memorial and has more on how people are reacting to the terror attack.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you join me outside the Crocus City Hall near Moscow, where on Friday night, gunmen killed at least 130 people inside that prominent concert hall. You can see thousands of people have now turned out from around Russia to pay their respects, to lay flowers, cuddly toys as well, add respect for the children who are affected. It really is a major event that has affected this country and it has fed feelings of instability amongst ordinary people.

ALEKSANDRA RUDENKO, MOURNER: I feel terrible about all the violence that exists in our world.

CHANCE: Yeah, in our world and in Russia as well. Do you feel safe in Russia, do you think?

RUDENKO: Yes, I think so. Not today, because this attack can be in every country and I think that it is a problem of all the world.

CHANCE: Do you feel safe in Russia now? Do you still feel safe or is there so many things happening you feel a bit more insecure?

MAXIM TKACHEV, MOURNER: You know, I don't know how to answer that question properly, but all I can say is that terrorist attacks, they are a worldwide problem. So this topic, well, it's not safe to feel when there are terrorists in the whole world, so I should say, well --

CHANCE: This is part of a broader problem.


CHANCE: We can see Orthodox priests have come out to deliver prayers at this memorial as well. This as investigators inside the burned out rubble of the concert hall are still going through the debris and are still saying that they're finding bodies and so the death toll could rise. In terms of the investigations, well, the authorities say at least 11 people have been taken into custody, including the four suspects who they believe carried out the actual shootings inside the Crocus City Hall.

Of course, ISIS said they carried out this attack, but the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, who is vowing revenge, calling it a barbaric act, has said that it could be linked with Ukraine, something the Ukrainian government has categorically denied.

Matthew Chance, CNN at the Crocus City Hall near Moscow.


CHURCH: CNN's Clare Sebastian has reported extensively from Russia. She joins us now live from London. So, Clare, what is the latest on the response and investigation into this terror attack?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, as we said, we now have four suspects who have been put in pretrial detention. They appeared in a Moscow court late on Sunday.


Now, they all appeared in sort of various states of injury. One was brought in on a wheelchair, unresponsive, but they are all four facing charges of terrorism which carry a maximum life sentence. Three have pled guilty. We understand that the fourth, who was unresponsive, wasn't able to enter a plea.

But look, they are all four from Tajikistan, according to Russian state media. This is going to potentially raise racial tensions. There were already a lot of migrant workers from Central Asia in Moscow and other big cities in Russia. They have already faced pressure. So I think it's relatively likely we could see that ramp up in the wake of this.

But of course, separately from that, we have this backdrop where, of course, as we see this trial play out, they've been remanded in custody for a period of three months. It may be more than that until we see a trial actually begin. Pretrial detention in Russia is typically quite long.

But as we see this trial start to play out, this legal process start to play out, I think the backdrop is going to be very important because, of course, we have this ISIS claim. They've released video which CNN has geolocated to the concert hall. The U.S. has said that there's no reason to doubt that claim. France has now, by the way, raised its terror alert level off the back of that ISIS claim.

But then, of course, on the other hand, we have the Russian president not mentioning ISIS in his address on Saturday to the Russian people, instead hinting at a link to Ukraine, which is something the Russian propaganda machine has now picked up and run with, along with other Russian high-ranking officials. There were also videos that emerged of some arrests in the Bryansk region, which borders Ukraine. One video CNN geolocated to 150 kilometers from the Ukrainian border.

So I think, look, it's not so much these four suspects of 11 that were arrested, but the thinking around who might have been originally behind this and how the Russian state is trying to manage the potential political fallout for President Putin just one week into his fifth term in office that will be, you know, the source of intrigue as this story plays out, Rosemary.

CHURCH: All right. Our thanks to Clare Sebastian joining us live from London.

In the coming hours, Donald Trump will have two major legal threats colliding in New York, the critical deadline to pay a massive bond in his civil fraud case, as well as a possible new trial date for his delayed criminal hush money case.

CNN's Zachary Cohen has the latest on both cases from Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ZACHARY COHEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: If Donald Trump cannot secure a bond in his multimillion dollar civil fraud judgment against him by Monday's deadline, he could see the New York attorney general start the process of seizing his assets. That's things like his bank accounts, things like his properties, all things that Donald Trump does not want to see prosecutors take away from him. But look, Trump personally owes over $450 million as a result of this judgment.

He has indicated and claimed that he has enough cash to pay that to support a bond. In that case, his lawyers have corrected him saying, no, he does not have that amount of cash on hand. But ultimately, if he cannot put up the money to postpone by Monday's deadline, that is when you could see the attorney general start to eye other things to make up for that cost.

And look, experts say that prosecutors have already taken some steps to potentially signal that they are going to move to seize some of Trump's assets and properties in New York should he be unable to post that bond on Monday. Those are things like one of his golf courses in New York and another private estate that he has there. And at the same time, Donald Trump is also expected in court as proceedings continue as part of his New York criminal case.

Now, this case deals with the hush money payments that were allegedly made to porn star Stormy Daniels. These were payments allegedly made to cover up an affair between Daniels and Trump prior to the 2016 election.

This trial, this case was supposed to go to trial. The trial was supposed to start on Monday. But instead, we're gonna have another pretrial hearing. This is where Trump's attorneys will try to postpone a trial for as long as possible. They will argue that discovery issues require further delay. The district attorney's office in New York has argued that no further delay is needed.

So ultimately, we're gonna have to see if a judge in this case could give more insight and more detail about a possible trial start date.

It's already been delayed through at least mid-April. But it's possible the judge sides with the D.A.'s office and gives us a trial date in New York before the 2024 election.

Zachary Cohen, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: Nikos Passas is a professor of criminology and criminal justice and co-director of the Institute for Security and Public Policy at Northeastern University. He joins us now from Boston. Good to have you with us.


[03:09:53] CHURCH: So in the hours ahead, Donald Trump faces two major legal threats. First, a deadline for the posting of that $464 million bond in his New York fraud case and also a possible hush money trial date. So let's consider the first. What happens if Trump is unable or perhaps unwilling to secure that bond and what decision might the appeals court make about whether Trump has to post this bond or perhaps a smaller amount?

PASSAS: So the court has a discretion as to whether to stay enforcement, reduce the amount of the bond or change the terms of the bond or keep things the way they are.

And in making that decision, it will consider things such as the likelihood of success in the appeal by the defendant.

The defendant's financial resources, the potential harm to the plaintiff or the defendant and the public interest.

So we either keep things as they are or he has to post a bond. If he has to post a bond and does not, then the question is what. So the collection process may then get started and it is immediately enforceable. Steps have already been taken by the attorney general in New York to place lien and start a collection process.

So there will be immediate consequences and impact on his finances, the former president's finances, brand and any effect also on his credit rating.

The course of action on the part of Letitia James, the attorney general, would be to move against as liquid assets as possible. That is the lowest hanging fruit such as financial accounts, bank or other financial assets.

And then as we have read in various sources, she may move to seize some of his real estate properties.

CHURCH: Right. And so what if Trump turns to a foreign source for help to post his bond? What's the potential conflict of interest or even national security threat in doing that?

PASSAS: If somebody else, as you asked, steps in, the question is who that entity or person is and what kind of debt, personal debt Trump will be owing to that person.

And that may clash with a national interest that may clash with the priorities for the United States. So it is certainly a potential conflict of interest.

And the question, of course, is why would a person or entity step in to do such -- to take such a risk for some entities and some people? It's not a big deal, but it could mean a debt that then creates the conflict of interest for someone who is making key decisions in the White House if he gets elected.

CHURCH: Right. And Trump is also expected to attend his New York hush money hearing today with the judge possibly setting a new trial date for his case after a delay, potentially his only pre-election trial. What are your expectations?

PASSAS: Well, my guess is that we are going to get that trial started within the next month or so, because the delay was for several thousand documents that were disclosed later at a subsequent date, both to the prosecution and then to the defense.

The issue, however, is that the overwhelming majority of those documents are not relevant to the case.

Only 200 to 300 documents are relevant to it. And it doesn't take that long to go through them. We already had a delay of about a month. And therefore, my expectation is that that trial is going to get started pretty soon.

CHURCH: Nikos Passas, thank you so much for joining us and for your analysis. I Appreciate it.

PASSAS: You're welcome. Thank you so much.

CHURCH: A cold front on the southern end of a winter storm is bringing the threat of severe storms to more than 25 million people across the lower Mississippi Valley today. That storm is currently impacting much of the Central Plains, with several states under blizzard and winter storm warnings that could last until early Tuesday.


Still to come, Israel and Hamas may be one step closer to reaching a hostage and prisoner exchange deal. Now, the U.S. is playing a pivotal role. Just ahead.


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Israel and Hamas could be closer to reaching a prisoner hostage exchange deal. CNN analyst Barak Rabed says Israel has reportedly agreed to a U.S. proposal that would see the release of around 700 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of 40 Israeli hostages. Rabed says this comes after the latest round of high-level talks in Doha, Qatar over the weekend, but adds that it may be a few days before Hamas responds.



BARAK RABED, POLITICAL AND GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Israel and the U.S. and the Qatari and Egyptian mediators are waiting to get a response from Hamas. And what I hear from Israeli officials is that this could take between, I don't know, a day to three days, because those details need to go from Hamas representatives in Doha who are negotiating to the person who really calls the shots. And this is Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar in Gaza, who is in a bunker some hundred feet under the ground. So this takes a long time until the message gets to him and until he gets the message back.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHURCH: Meantime, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is expected to meet Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant at the White House in the coming hours.

An official says they will discuss the urgent need for more humanitarian aid to reach desperate civilians in Gaza and efforts to get the remaining hostages held in the enclave released. CNN's Kevin Liptak has details.


KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: This week is shaping up to be a critical one, not just in terms of the trajectory of the war in Gaza, but also as a major test of American influence on the Israelis as this conflict proceeds.

And what you'll see this week is two very senior level delegations coming from Israel to Washington to meet with top Biden administration officials.

The defense secretary from Israel left Sunday and plans to meet Monday with senior members of President Biden's team, including the National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, also the Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and the Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Those discussions are expected to center around Israel's weapons needs as it continues to go after Hamas in Gaza.

And then later in this week, you'll see a separate delegation led by Ron Dermer, a top confidant to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to discuss the situation in Rafah. That's the southern city in Gaza that Israel says is necessary to invade, to launch a ground invasion, to go after Hamas.

And that has certainly caused a lot of consternation here at the White House, certainly a lot of concerns about the 1.4 million Palestinian civilians who are sheltering there. What President Biden and his top officials have said is that Israel should not proceed with that ground invasion before they come up with a credible plan to protect those civilians. And the White House says it hasn't seen such a plan yet.

And you'll remember last week, President Biden spoke by phone with Netanyahu and told him to dispatch this delegation here to hear American alternatives to a ground invasion.

Now, since then, Netanyahu has really doubled down on those plans and said that, in fact, it is necessary for the IDF to go into Rafah on the ground to root out Hamas. And certainly that has caused a great deal of concern among President Biden's team, including the Vice President Kamala Harris, who spoke about the situation in Rafah in an interview this weekend. Listen to what she said.

KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: We have been clear in multiple conversations and in every way that any major military operation in Rafah would be a huge mistake. Let me tell you something. I have studied the maps. There's nowhere for those folks to go. And we're looking at about a

million and a half people in Rafah who are there because they were told to go there, most of them. And so we've been very clear that it would be a mistake to move into Rafah with any type of military operation.

RACHEL SCOTT, ABC NEWS SR. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Are you ruling out that there would be consequences from the United States?

HARRIS: I am ruling out nothing.

LIPTAK: So you hear her there not ruling out consequences for Israel should it go into Rafah. And certainly American officials have discussed what their response would be. It's not exactly clear what the parameters of that would look like. But certainly President Biden has come under increasing pressure from Democratic lawmakers to start conditioning aid to Israel based on its steps on the humanitarian front. You also hear calls for President Biden to increase diplomatic pressure on Israel.

So whether or not those consequences, that response comes up in the meetings this week, certainly remains to be seen. But it is clear we are entering quite a critical stretch of days as this conflict proceeds.

Kevin Liptak, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: Joining us now is Gideon Levy, columnist for "Haaretz" newspaper and the former advisor to Shimon Peres. Thank you so much for being with us.


CHURCH: So according to CNN's Barak Ravid, Israel has agreed to a U.S. proposal to release about 700 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 40 Israeli hostages, but says a response from Hamas will take a few more days. What can you tell us about this possible deal?


LEVY: I would like to broaden the scale of this deal because it's not only about the hostages. It's also about the return of the inhabitants of northern Gaza to their homes gradually, but that's a big issue between Hamas and Israel.

It's also about releasing hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and about a pause in the war. So to focus only on the hostages is a little bit too narrow, and the chances are good, but nothing is guaranteed yet. Things are taking time, and I don't see the sense of urgency, neither at Hamas nor at Israeli officials. It might take some more time.

CHURCH: Why do you think there isn't a sense of urgency? LEVY: I can know more about the Israeli attitude because Israel, from

the beginning, the Israeli government did not put the release of the hostages as first priority. That's also in all the polls the choice of the Israeli public opinion.

Crushing Hamas is a bigger priority, and anything around the hostages will take some price for the other goal because it's really two different goals. Pausing now, stopping the war, maybe bringing it to its end, leaves Hamas quite in a good position, I must say.

CHURCH: And U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is expected to meet Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant at the White House in the coming hours to discuss the urgent need for humanitarian aid to Gaza and to look for alternatives to a planned ground offensive in Rafah that issue also to be discussed in later meetings this week. What do you expect will come out of that meeting?

LEVY: It depends what will Galant hear. If it's only words, condemnations, advices, then Israel might ignore it, as it did ignore until now. Most of the U.S. advices about increasing the humanitarian aid, Israel ignored.

It is all about taking measures. If the American administration is devoted, like the vice president was quoted just now, if they are really devoted to take measures to put a real pressure on Israel because the issue on stake is now penetrating into Rafah, this should be prevented by all means because this is going to become a huge humanitarian catastrophe, and I can only hope that the Americans will not only talk, but also tell Israel that there will be a price for another catastrophe in Gaza.

CHURCH: So, you mentioned this when we spoke last time, that this would be a human catastrophe. So, what would likely be a better alternative to a ground invasion of Rafah if Benjamin Netanyahu still wants to accomplish his mission of destroying Hamas, both politically and militarily?

LEVY: Rose, let me tell you that even if Israel will go into Rafah and destroy Rafah, Hamas will not be totally beaten because while we are in Rafah, you see that Hamas is still active in the northern part of Gaza and in Gaza City.

We have to realize that there are some things which are not achievable, and Israel should conclude this war. In my view, it should conclude this war. There are some achievements, not many more achievements can be achieved, and above all, the catastrophe of Gaza must come to its end. We are talking now all the time about Israel and Israel's goals.

What about the fate of 2.3 million people who are living in the last half year?

I wouldn't even describe it as like animals, much worse than animals. This must come to its end at any price, today, yesterday, tomorrow.

CHURCH: All right, Gideon Levy, thank you so much for talking with us. I Appreciate it.

LEVY: Thank you for having me.

CHURCH: The death toll in the Russia concert hall attack is now up to 137, and the four men accused are facing terrorist charges. The latest on the investigation, next on "CNN Newsroom".

Plus, France and the U.S. are ramping up evacuation efforts from Haiti as the Caribbean nation continues its chaotic descent into gang violence and political instability. Back with that and more in just a moment.




CHURCH: Welcome back to "CNN Newsroom". I'm Rosemary Church, and here's a look at our top stories this hour.

Donald Trump will be facing two major legal threats in New York today. First is the critical deadline to post nearly half a billion dollars in bond money for his civil fraud case. Also, his criminal hush money trial was set for today. But now Trump's lawyers can argue for a longer postponement or to have the charges dismissed.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is expected to meet Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant at the White House in the coming hours. An official says they will discuss efforts to get the remaining hostages held in the enclave released. It comes as CNN analyst Barack Ravid says Israel has agreed to a proposal from the U.S. on a prisoner hostage exchange deal.

The four men accused of killing at least 137 people at a concert hall near Moscow are now facing terrorism charges. Three have entered guilty pleas and all are being held in pre-trial detention. Investigators say the men are from Tajikistan and have been in Russia on either temporary or expired visas.

And earlier I discussed the attack with Matthew Schmidt, an associate professor of national security at the University of New Haven, and I asked him about ISIS claiming responsibility for that attack and about the group ISIS-K.


MATTHEW SCHMIDT, ASSOCIATE PROF. OF NATIONAL SECURITY, UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAVEN: ISIS-K most recently attacked the Russian embassy in Kabul last fall. And it's been trying to push Russia out of Afghanistan because Russia has been supporting the Taliban, which has been fighting against ISIS-K.

And ISIS-K's basic strategy is to try to put Russia out of Afghanistan and out of greater Central Asia. CHURCH: So Putin was apparently warned by U.S. intelligence of the

possibility of an attack like this, but dismissed it as an attempt to destabilize Russia. However, the Russian embassy in the U.S. is saying it did not get notice of an impending attack. What do you make of this chatter?


SCHMIDT: Well, it's pure hubris on Russian's part. It's standard operating procedure for U.S. intelligence agencies to pass on information of impending attacks.

For instance, we just did it in Iran a few months ago where ISIS-K attacked the target that we were warning would be attacked. So this is pretty normal. And for Putin to just dismiss it out of hand, in fact, he said he wouldn't accept it because it was an American sort of disinformation plot, just shows the weakness of his leadership.

CHURCH: And Putin is trying to unite Russia behind the Ukraine war by blaming Ukraine for this attack instead of ISIS. Will that strategy work for him?

SCHMIDT: Absolutely. When you don't have a free press, when you control what goes out on radio and TV and in print, and the majority of your population is getting the news that way, that's exactly what he's going to get.

He's going to get a rally around the flag effect, although there is, I would note, significant discontent in the immediate aftermath here of the attack.

There are a lot of citizen journalists who are posting things on Telegram critiquing the security services and Putin himself sort of lightly. What they do in Russia is they critique the people around Putin and they say if only those people had given Putin the right information, then he, the czar, would have acted correctly. And so any failure is kept one level below Putin himself. But that criticism is pretty strong right now.


CHURCH: Ukraine's president says Russia has been bombarding the country with massive aerial attacks. Volodymyr Zelenskyy says in the past week alone, Moscow has launched nearly 200 missiles, nearly 140 Iranian drones and close to 700 guided aerial bombs. Sunday saw another huge assault.


Air raid sirens sounded in Kyiv as residents hunkered down in subway systems. Ukrainian officials say the capital city suffered only minor damage, but Kyiv was just one of the targets.

Russian missiles struck critical infrastructure in Lviv region -- the Lviv region as well. One missile even entered Polish airspace. Poland activated F-16s and is demanding answers from Moscow. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WLADYSLAW KOSINIAK-KAMYSZ, POLISH MINISTER OF NATIONAL DEFENSE (through translator): If there was any premise indicating that this object was going in the direction of any targets located in Poland, of course it would have been shot down and more adequate measures would have been taken.


CHURCH: Meanwhile, Ukraine says it launched successful strikes on Russia's Black Sea fleet. They say they hit two Russian naval vessels, a communications center and several other facilities in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol.

France is organizing flights for vulnerable nationals who want to leave Haiti, the country announced Sunday. It comes as the U.S. State Department has evacuated more than 230 people looking to escape the spike in gang violence in Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince. CNN's David Culver is on the ground in Haiti with more on the difficulties in trying to get Americans out safely and back on U.S. soil.


DAVID CULVER, CNN SR. CORRESPONDENT: The challenge for U.S. citizens trying to leave Port-au-Prince begins as soon as they start driving to the U.S. embassy. Getting there involves driving through either gang- controlled or gang-contested territories. It's dangerous and it's unpredictable.

In armored vehicles, we saw that firsthand. And yet this is the only way out for some.

The airport is shut down and many feel trapped.

In recent days, the U.S. embassy began evacuating citizens who could make it to the embassy. Managing the safety of those evacuations is regional security officer Steve Strickland.

How does Haiti, how does Port-au-Prince today compare to your past 19 years?

STEVE STRICKLAND, U.S. DIPLOMATIC SECURITY SERVICE, SUPERVISORY SPECIAL AGENT: There's nothing like Port-au-Prince. The security situations here are nothing like anything I've experienced before. I've spent time in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, in Africa. And the unique circumstances here, I've not seen a parallel to those in any other security environment that I've served.

CULVER: Amid these challenges, there are some who fear Americans are being abandoned in this gang-filled war zone.

STRICKLAND: The truth of the matter is literally on a daily basis, there are phone calls that we're engaged with at the highest levels of U.S. government, where the number one topic is safety and security. How do we help get our U.S. citizens out of the country to a safe place?

CULVER: Launching these evacuation flights from the capital is a critical first step. Jenny Guillaume and her five-year-old son Conrad registered a few days ago.


She's had to leave behind her mom and other loved ones so as to get back to their home in New York.

Getting to the embassy is terrifying. It's a potentially deadly commute. Some who had confirmed their spots cancelled last minute, either emotionally unable to leave behind loved ones or just unable to get to the embassy safely.

So is there an option to go from here and go pick them up? Is that even a reality?

STRICKLAND: It just really is an unfortunate. The security resources that we have are stretched so thin. The ability to do that is really a non-starter. We just don't have that capacity to do it. We'd love to do it, it's just simply an impossibility unfortunately.

CULVER: With some seats unclaimed at the last minute, our team as U.S. citizens is able to travel out with them and chronicle their journey.

We board in gang-controlled territory on a patch of land that's secured and surrounded by a robust and reassuring American military presence.

We take off for the Dominican Republic.

There are a lot of mixed emotions for those who get out. Gratitude and relief for getting here safely, as well as guilt and fear for those still in Port-au-Prince, knowing that what's happening on the other side of this border is getting worse with each passing hour.

David Culver, CNN, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.


CHURCH: Still to come, after a military rescue, the parents of dozens of children kidnapped in Nigeria are breathing a sigh of relief. We'll have a live report.


CHURCH: Officials in Nigeria say at least 137 school children kidnapped from Kaduna earlier this month have been rescued.

The Nigerian military says they were rescued by the military early Sunday morning. Nearly 300 were initially reported as being held captive, but the Nigerian government insists that all of the children are now safe.

[03:45:06] The state's governor says he met with the families of the children, and the students will be hosted at an official dinner on Monday, but added that one teacher had died after developing complications while in captivity.

Joining us now is CNN's David McKenzie in Johannesburg. So, David, what is the latest on these kidnapped school children in Nigeria now released?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well Rosemary, you look at these images of the children who were basically paraded in front of the governor on Sunday.

This is a very good moment for the families of those who've been agonizingly waiting for more than two weeks to get word of what happened to their children.

A few weeks ago, you had these gunmen on motorbikes coming early in the morning, a lot of them, in fact, to take on this primary and secondary school and take away more than 100 children. And this is a chronic issue in the part of northwestern Nigeria, Kaduna State.

Now, according to the government, this was a search and rescue operation. They found the children in a neighboring state, at least more than 100 miles away.

But there were talk from the loved ones of those children who were abducted, saying that they had been reached out to by the bandits, as they called in Nigeria, and that a more than $600,000 ransom had been asked for. The government is denying that any ransom was paid, but they did say this was a successful operation to get those children back, Rosemary.

CHURCH: And how bad are kidnappings like this in Nigeria nearly 10 years after the Chibok girls were taken?

MCKENZIE: Well, yes, you'll remember almost 10 years or just under 10 years ago, the Chibok girls were taken from northeast Nigeria, more than 230 of them, which caused an international outcry and a social media campaign. Some of those girls are still in captivity.

But this is a chronic problem that speaks to the lack of security and governance in large parts of the northern and northwestern parts of Nigeria. Successive presidents have promised that they will figure this issue out.

But as we've seen in recent weeks, just a few days before these children were taken from their school in the morning hours, there was another incident in the northeast of Nigeria where more than 200 people were kidnapped. Those people haven't been returned.

And again, despite the promises of the government and themselves and them congratulating themselves for getting these children back, there is no sense that this chronic issue has been addressed. And more than 1,400 students, it's believed, have been kidnapped since those 10 years ago where the world was shocked by those Chibok girls taken. Rosemary?

CHURCH: It was indeed. David McKenzie, joining us live from Johannesburg. Many thanks.

In the men's NCAA basketball tournament, Yale tries to continue its Cinderella story as it faces last year's tournament runner-up. We will tell you which team made it into the sweet 16, next on "CNN Newsroom".




CHURCH: We are learning more about this fire aboard a Carnival cruise ship near the Bahamas, which witnesses say may have been caused by a lightning strike.

The company says Carnival Freedom experienced a fire on the port side of the exhaust funnel Saturday. The fire was quickly put out but a team has since found more damage than originally thought. The ship is returning to Port Canaveral, Florida and will require an immediate repair. The company says it must now cancel the next two cruises from there, including one scheduled for today.

And later today, baseball star Shohei Ohtani is expected to address a gambling controversy involving his former interpreter. Ohtani's lawyers accused the interpreter of stealing millions of dollars from him. Major League Baseball is investigating the interpreter for gambling. He worked for Ohtani for more than a decade until he was fired last week. Ohtani is Japanese and plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He is a batting and pitching standout and considered baseball's biggest star.

The U.S. men's NCAA tournament's sweet 16 is set on Sunday. Marquette advanced by beating Colorado 81-77. Marquette's Tyler Collick had 21 points and 11 assists.

Meanwhile, Purdue powered past Utah State. Baller-makers seven-foot- four center Zach Eaddy had 23 points and 14 rebounds in the win.

By the way, the Cinderella story of this year's tournament has come to an end. The scrappy Yale Bulldogs lost to San Diego State 57-85.

Well meantime, an upset in the women's tournament. Duke knocked off Ohio State in the Buckeyes' home arena. Duke, or Duke as you would say in America, moves on to the sweet 16.

Second-seeded Stanford survived an overtime scare and beat the Iowa State Cyclones 87-81. Kiki Iriofin scored 41 points for the Cardinal.

The Iowa Hawkeyes and star Caitlin Clark will have their chance tonight to advance to the sweet 16 when they play West Virginia.

Well hundreds of waiters in Paris served up their A-game this weekend for a century-old race that's come roaring back to life in the City of Lights. They took to the streets to show who could move the fastest and with the best balance. CNN's Michael Holmes reports.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Waiting tables in Paris isn't just a job, it's a profession. And a good server needs a lot of hustle to get through the day.

But just who is the fastest waiter in town? Some 200 servers in Paris suited up to put their skills to the test.


CLAUDE ISAMBERT, WAITER (through translator): Black pants, black socks, well-polished shoes and a tie or bow tie with a jacket. That's traditional and Parisian.

HOLMES (voice-over): Holding trays containing a typical French breakfast, the participants navigated a two-kilometer course through the Marais district in the revival of Paris' classic cafe waiter race last held in 2011. The rules are simple, no running, that would just be gauche, and no spilling anything on the tray which must be held in one hand.

LOUANE MOREL, WAITRESS (through translator): I've been doing this job since I was 16. I don't necessarily expect to be the first because I don't necessarily have the best cardio but I hope to at least arrive with the tray in good condition at the finish line.

HOLMES (voice-over): The race began in 1914 with servers balancing a bottle on a tray in the earlier days but 13 years ago organizers couldn't find any sponsors so the race was put on the back burner until the Paris City Hall and Water Authority fired up the event again this year.

ANNE SOPHIE BLANCHET, SPECTATOR (through translator): I find it wonderful that we're reviving this race which highlights a very beautiful profession and which above all is very difficult I think on a daily basis so congratulations to them and may the best win.

HOLMES (voice-over): So while this might not look like a typical day at the cafe, the men's and women's winners who completed the circuit in 13 minutes 30 seconds and 14 minutes 12 seconds respectively say it's an expedited version of what they do every day with a healthy serving of stamina getting them across the finish line. Bon Appetit.

Michael Holmes, CNN.


CHURCH: And thanks so much for your company this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. Have yourselves a wonderful day. "CNN Newsroom" continues next with Anna Coren.