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Supermarket Suicide Bomber Kills One, Wounds 17

Aired March 29, 2002 - 06:36   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.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: As we have said before, our Ben Wedeman is standing by live in Jerusalem. He is going to tell us about the latest on the explosion in a supermarket there -- good morning, Ben. What can you tell us?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Carol. At least 17 people have been injured in an explosion in a Jerusalem supermarket. It went off in the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood of southern Jerusalem.

According to the Israeli police, it was a female suicide bomber who let off the explosion. They say there are still explosives on the scene, so they are approaching it with extreme caution.

Now, according to some reports, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade has claimed responsibility for this explosion. That is a group that has been affiliated with Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement. That is about all the information we have from there at the moment.

There are also reports of one body on the scene that could be the body of the female suicide bomber -- Carol.

COSTELLO: We are getting reports there could be another person dead as well. Are you hearing anything about that, Ben?

WEDEMAN: No. And really, having covered too many of these suicide bombings here in Israel, I can tell you in the first hour or two, it is really very difficult to get solid information. It's a real scene of pandemonium at these events, and it's very difficult to ascertain hard information. And certainly when you hear the initial numbers of 17 wounded, it's not clear how many of those are critically wounded, moderately wounded, people in shock. So very difficult, as I say, to provide clear and precise information so shortly after this sort of a bombing -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Ben, is it safe to say that Anthony Zinni's cease-fire plan is dead?

WEDEMAN: Well, his plan is not dead. It certainly isn't in very good condition; this after the Israeli entry into Ramallah this morning. Now, the Israeli forces are surrounding the Palestinian leader's headquarters in Ramallah, after last night's attack in the northern West Bank that left four Israelis dead, after this morning, another attack in the Gaza Strip on an Israeli settlement that left two Israelis dead. Really Mr. Zinni has got a difficult task ahead of him. U.S. officials say he is going to stay in the region to try to work out a cease-fire, but certainly at this point, things really do appear to be spinning out of control, and there is only so much Mr. Zinni can do to stop the violence -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Well, the Palestinians have called this war. Is it war? Can we say it is now? Because it certainly seems like it is.

WEDEMAN: Well, it's hard to say what is. For the last 18 months, we have seen rising violence in this area. We have seen Palestinians attacking Israelis, Israelis attacking Palestinians, mounting death toll day by day. It's not war yet in the sense that the Israelis are holding back much of their military power. They have deployed around the West Bank. There is armor, many soldiers. They have called up 20,000 combat reservists, but they still have a lot of hardware they are keeping in reserve.

They say they do not want to destroy the Palestinian Authority. They do not intend to arrest, harm or injure the Palestinian leader, so we are not quite at war yet, but certainly the situation does not look encouraging one little bit -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Well, Ariel Sharon says he wants to isolate Arafat, but we can't really determine exactly what that means.

WEDEMAN: Yes. He really shied away from giving a precise definition of what isolation is. Now, there has been a good deal of discussion within the Israeli cabinet as to what to do with the Palestinian leader. There are those on the left with Labor, who do not want to see the Palestinian leader unseated or exiled or in any way undercut in the sense that who would come and take his place afterwards. It could be somebody who could provide -- who could pose even more of a threat to the Israelis. On the other hand, on the right, there are those who would like to see the Palestinian leader eliminated in some sense or exiled.

So there really isn't a clear idea of what Mr. Sharon means by isolation, but certainly putting the heat under Arafat, there is no question about that -- Carol.

COSTELLO: All right. Ben Wedeman reporting live from Jerusalem, and you were looking at pictures from an explosion at the supermarket, where a female suicide bomber set off a bomb injuring dozens and killing at least one person, and we believe that was the suicide bomber, although AP is reporting another person has died.

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