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At Least 3 Killed in Explosion in Afghanistan

Aired April 15, 2002 - 07:30   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.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We've got some breaking news out of Afghanistan right now. Let's go to Ryan Chilcote who has the details of a confirmation that three American servicemen have died in an explosion in Afghanistan.

Ryan, what else can you tell us? Good morning.

RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well the week has gotten off to a very tragic start here at the Kandahar Air Base. CNN has learned that at least three US servicemen were killed in an explosion this morning. There may be more dead, there may be more wounded. We do not know that for a fact. I personally was out on the landing strip and saw the body bags, what appeared to be the body bags of at least three servicemen unloaded from a helicopter. So the week off to a really tragic start here at the Kandahar air base in southeastern Afghanistan. Back to you.

ZAHN: Ryan, I know, in these situations it is so tough to get any information, but is there a suggestion that these servicemen died as a result of a fire fight? There have been fire fights going on all weekend long in that area?

CHILCOTE: Yes -- I would shy away from any speculation at this point. All I know for sure is that these three US servicemen, that we are being told were killed, died in an explosion this morning. Obviously that could be a great number of things here in Afghanistan. That could be, you know, where they were blowing up some munitions from past wars. That could have been military operation. We really don't know, we'll have to wait. As soon as I have that, I'll of course be sharing that with you. Back to you.

ZAHN: How much of a problem do land mines continue to be in that area?

CHILCOTE: I'm sorry, could you repeat that question?

ZAHN: Yes, over the last couple of weeks we've been showing some of the perimeter areas around Kandahar Airport where they continue to remove land mines. How much of a problem is that in and around Kandahar?

CHILCOTE: Well, yes, land mines are a large threat around the Kandahar air base. As you might recall, a little bit more than a week ago, one US serviceman was actually killed during a training exercise, when he stepped on a land mine. And another serviceman was injured. And this is one of the most land mined countries, if you will, in the world. So there are many, many land mines here. And they remain to be a threat. It is very difficult to clear all of those land mines in so little time. It is just basically a factor of time, clearing them up.

But we do not know that this has anything to do with a land mine or what exactly it is yet. All we know is that this was due to an explosion that these three US servicemen died.

ZAHN: I know, Ryan that obviously none of us want to speculate, but there is a report that has gotten some attention this morning that these American servicemen might have died as a result of rocket-fire. Have you heard that possibility discussed in a serious way by anyone there?

CHILCOTE: I have not heard that. And there -- what's interesting about that is there have been several rocket attacks in recent days in Afghanistan. So I suppose it would be a little bit difficult to be sure if those reports referred to this incident. Just the day before yesterday in the city of Kandahar, there was a rocket attack, where it is believed that at least two rockets on a timer were fired at the Kandahar Governors palace, in downtown Kandahar. Now, as far as we know, we were told by officials from the Afghan Foreign Ministry, those rockets actually went over the Afghan, over that palace. And no one was injured or killed.

So we'll just have to see, and I will certainly be out there looking for that information. Back to you.

ZAHN: Ryan Chilcote, thanks so much for that live update. And, of course, as soon as we have more details on what might have caused the deaths of these three American servicemen, we'll bring it to you live.

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