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Palestinians Report More Shootings in Ramallah

Aired March 31, 2002 - 15:00   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.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good afternoon, I am Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN Center in Atlanta. "BUSINESS UNUSUAL" is straight ahead, but first this breaking news: More shootings being reported out of Ramallah, where it is nightfall there. Let's go to our Michael Holmes who has the latest -- Michael.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, we do have some information coming to us from the head of preventative security for the Palestinians. His name is Jabil Rajoob. He tells us that there are some 20 or more Palestinian security force officers in a building in downtown Ramallah. They say that the Israeli army came along and ordered them to surrender. They did; they laid down their arms, and according to Jabil Rajoob, they began to exit the building.

He says one of the first men out of the building, in fact, was shot dead. This is coming only from the Palestinian side. We must insist that it is the head of the preventative security. He tells us that there are more than one dead now, and there are several injured.

There have been some bursts of gunfire from that region, from where we're located. However, it has not been sustained fire. We contacted the Israeli defense forces. They say they have no knowledge of this incident.

Meanwhile, the Red Crescent, the ambulance service, was sent down there. They were not allowed to get near the area, they tell us, and in fact, their ambulance drivers were detained for some time.

This is still developing. We do not have all the details yet, but Palestinian sources telling us that there is something of a stand- off going there. There are fatalities and there are injuries, again, according to Palestinian sources.

Just to wrap up what's been an eventful day here; of course, we managed to get in and speak with Yasser Arafat today, following on the heels of a group of activists who walked into his compound brazenly -- brazenly, to say the least -- and walked straight into his office, past Israeli soldiers who fired warning shots and past Palestinian gunmen on the inside -- Palestinian security force officers, I should say -- on the inside, and they managed to get in and be greeted by Yasser Arafat. And we managed to speak with him. You'll see more of that interview a little later in your day, Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And once again, Michael, you said the Palestinian officers reportedly who were armed while they were inside the compound were asked to lay down arms and then exit, and that is when the shooting took place?

HOLMES: Need to clarify something here, Fredricka. This did not occur at the Palestinian Authority compound. This occurred in an office building in downtown Ramallah. These officers, some 30 or more of them, we're told, were living in the building -- because they had nowhere else to go, because they felt that their police stations would be targeted by Israeli forces, and they -- also, some of them are not from Ramallah and had no houses here, so they were in the building. They were then ordered to come out, this they did, we're told by the Palestinian preventative security office. One of them was shot as he walked out the door. According to the Palestinians, more than one has been killed; there are several injured. This is in a building in downtown Ramallah -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: All right. Thank you for that clarification, Michael Holmes reporting from Ramallah. And of course, we'll be keeping you updated on the information as we get it. I am Fredricka Whitfield at CNN Center in Atlanta.

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