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Alleged Restaurant Bombing in Downtown Jerusalem

Aired August 9, 2001 - 07:36   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.
COLLEEN MCEDWARDS, CNN ANCHOR: We've got more breaking news to tell you about this morning. Over to Vince.

VINCE CELLINI, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Colleen, as we reported earlier this hour, a bomb went off at a pizza restaurant at a central Jerusalem restaurant about lunchtime injuring more than 20 people.

Our Jerrold Kessel is in Jerusalem now, joins us by phone. He is at the scene.

Jerrold, what is the very latest?

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Vince, a good deal of nerves all a jangle here and the police believe they have found another device, at the moment. And they've just escorted people -- the rescue services, the media and other emergency services away from the site as the bomb zappers (ph) go in. They believe it was a bomb. There's not absolute confirmation it was a bomb but certainly an explosion just about 40 minutes ago in this small corner -- this area on the corner of the paps (ph) -- the busiest corner in downtown Jerusalem. These are the two main streets intersection of Jaffa (ph) and King George Street.

And the early reports were, by the time we got just within 20 minutes of the explosion, all the casualties had been removed. The early reports are that some 20 people hurt and fear of fatalities, but that not confirmed yet. But the scene here was pandemonium. Now it's quieted down as the police zappers (ph) have gone in -- explosive experts, to try to see if indeed there is another bomb in that area of the small (UNINTELLIGIBLE) on this very busy corner.

Many, many flashing lights of the ambulances, of the police cars, of the rescue services on the scene. All the casualties, however, from the first explosion have been removed from here. The scene, it looks like -- almost like an ice rink these main roads with the -- all the glass that has careened in from the plate glass from the windows of that pizzeria and nearby stores have all been -- have all ended in the road. And it does look very much like an ice rink.

But certainly in this very hot Jerusalem day and a very hot mood as the ongoing confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians possibly taking another turn with this explosion which may well be and does seem to have been a bomb in the center of Jerusalem -- Vince. CELLINI: Well, Jerrold, this is, as you mentioned, in the very heart of the city so this would be an inviting target if a bomb were placed there, were it not?

KESSEL: Indeed, a very crowded area. It's just about now -- it's twenty before three local time and this was at the explosion took place just before 2:00 at the lunch hour at that restaurant. It's called the Shallow Restaurant (ph). You see some of the green, white and red signs indicating an Italian pizzeria. The Kosher signs on it on the corner was crowded, by all accounts, at the time of this explosion.

As we say, we don't have an absolute confirmation that it was a bomb but it does seem in that -- to have gone in that direction. And, of course, Jerusalem is where -- or has been bracing for more attacks by Palestinian militants in the wake of Israeli attacks and the declared intention of Palestinian groups to strike at Israeli targets everywhere. And this one, if it is indeed a strike by Palestinian militants, in a very soft target right in the heart of Jerusalem in this Italian pizzeria on this very busy intersection downtown Jerusalem.

CELLINI: Jerrold, we have just been given the report, four casualties -- four are dead as a result of this explosion. I wonder how close you have gotten to some of the victims involved there and the seriousness of some of the other injuries you've seen?

KESSEL: Well, the remarkable thing about the Israeli rescue services and the medical services is, as I say, by the time we managed to evade the quick road blocks that were set up by the police and got down here, and that was within 20, 25 minutes at most of the actual explosion, all of the casualties had indeed been carried away already to the various hospitals around the city. So no indication here from when we've been here of the extent of the injuries. But I dare say, one of (ph) the initial reports from the medical relief services was that there were a large number relative to the size of the place, but given the fact that this is a very crowded place, that does make sense indeed.

CELLINI: Well, Jerrold Kessel, thank you very much from that report from Jerusalem. And we will continue to follow this story throughout the ensuing hours.

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