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Breaking News

Police Calling Israel Van Explosion An Act of Terror

Aired March 1, 2001 - 7:50 a.m. ET

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

COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN ANCHOR: A story we want to update on you, a story we've been following here on CNN this morning. There has been an explosion in northern Israel in a taxi. People have been injured.

CNN's Jerrold Kessel is in Jerusalem now with the very latest on this for us.

Hi, Jerrold.

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Colleen.

And still all the details not absolutely clear. But what we do know is that one person has been killed and nine others hurt in an explosion, definitely an explosion. Police saying this was an act of terror in northern Israel, about 40 miles northeast of Tel Aviv.

Sketchy details about exactly what happened, but apparently an explosion aboard a minibus van which was serving as a taxi. And there the question is, What happened, how it came to be stopped and how the explosives went off. But according to the police, very likely the man who is dead was what they say -- what they say a terrorist and had been carrying the explosives which he set off.

But how that happened, there are two different versions from two different police sources. One that the taxi-van was, in fact, stopped at an earlier police roadblock and sped away. And there was a high- speed chase in the roads of northern Israel until it was stopped at another police checkpoint. And there the explosion took place apparently by the man aboard that taxi which had sped away.

The question is, according to the police, were all those aboard the taxi, in fact, what the police are saying terrorists who were bent on carrying out an explosion in an Israeli town, or only one man who had gone onboard with the explosive strapped to him and possibly heading towards carrying out a terror act in an Israeli city. But the police are referring to this as an act of terror in northern Israel.

One person killed, presumably the police say the many who had the explosives himself. And another nine people hurt, of them, two seriously. Paramedics who arrived quickly on the scene were -- transferred the injured to hospitals in northern Israel -- Colleen.

MCEDWARDS: Jerrold, anything significant about that area of northern Israel or the town? Any kind of activity there recently? KESSEL: It is -- it is an area of northern Israel where there are many Israel-Arab villages and towns. And this happened in the -- at a major intersection near one of the biggest Israeli-Arab towns, Zumo Fakum (ph) where there have been clashes in the past during the Palestinian Intifada with Israel -- at the beginning of that Intifada back in October. But no evidence at all to link it to the Israel- Arabs in that area as of this day or, indeed, to absolutely for sure link it to the Palestinian Intifada. But the uprising against Israel that's been going on for the last six months.

But that is the supposition on which the Israel police are working at the moment. And what they are trying to understand is where the man with the explosives, whom they are calling a terrorist -- boarded the taxi or was the taxi hijacked and driven away as a stolen vehicle to northern Israel.

That's what's being assessed now as the injured are taken away to hospitals in northern Israel -- Colleen.

MCEDWARDS: All right, CNN's Jerrold Kessel in Jerusalem, thanks.

And Jerrold confirming one person killed, nine other people hurt.

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