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Bus Bombed, Fired On in West Bank

Aired July 16, 2002 - 09:48   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: More breaking news out of the Middle East now. At least seven Israelis have been killed, more than 20 wounded this morning in an attack by Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank preceded by an explosion as that bus tried to enter a settlement.

CNN's Jerusalem bureau chief, Mike Hanna, joins us now live with more details -- good morning, Mike.

MIKE HANNA, CNN JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF: Hello, Paula. Well, clearly this a very well-planned attack, according to the Israeli Defense Force and police chiefs in the area.

An explosive device planted alongside the Nekstra (ph) Road was detonated, stopping a bus, a bulletproof bus, which was on its way into the West Bank settlement of Emanuel. As the people got off the bus, a group of Palestinian gunmen opened fire. According to the Israeli Defense Force, seven people confirmed killed, some 20 people reported to be wounded.

Now various accounts we are getting from the scene, one eyewitness description saying that the three Palestinian gunmen, at least three Palestinian gunmen, were dressed in Israeli army uniforms. They opened fire with automatic weapons on the people as they were getting off the bus.

The Israeli Defense Force has launched a major operation in that area to try and find those responsible for this attack. Emanuel itself was the scene of such an attack in December last year, when ten Israelis were killed in an attack by Palestinian gunmen on a bus outside the settlement, very similar circumstances.

Difference is, at that time, the bus was not bulletproofed. On this occasion, it was a bulletproof bus that was stopped by this explosive device. So, reports still being received from the scene. All the wounded, we understand, have been evacuated. An exact number of wounded not yet clear, at least 20, we are told by the police chief in the area. But confirmation from the Israeli Defense Force that seven people have been killed in the latest Palestinian gun attack on a Jewish settlement in the West Bank -- Paula.

ZAHN: Just very quickly, roadblocks are in place, heavy scrutiny by IDF forces. What -- how did these people get in there? Does anybody know? HANNA: Well, perhaps a clue lies in that one eyewitness account that the men were dressed in Israeli army uniforms. As you say, intense security precautions have been in force in that area and throughout the West Bank. Roadblocks, movement of Palestinians severely curtailed, and yet still these gunmen managed to get through. Still, they have managed to carry out this attack. We're waiting for further details, but a very interesting eyewitness account there, Paula, that the gunman were dressed in Israeli army uniforms.

ZAHN: Mike Hanna. Thanks so much for that update. We will come back to you throughout the day as more information becomes available.

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