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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Pair of Explosions Takes Place in Chechen Capital

Aired December 27, 2002 - 07:33   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We want to get right back to that breaking news, which is breaking out of Chechnya and reports that a pair of explosions has taken place in the Chechen capital of Grozny.
Our Moscow bureau chief Jill Dougherty joins us now with the latest on this -- Jill, it looks like early reports say quite a few people have died in these explosions.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Daryn. They don't know how many. Their initial report said 25 have died, but, you know, in situations like this, it's very early. But they say that there are numerous casualties.

As you reported, there are two explosions that took place in Grozny, in the capital, right down in the center at the government building. The reports now are that they were suicide bombers, one in a truck, one in a car, and they rammed the fence that surrounds that government building.

The explosions took place just literally about 30 seconds apart and, again, real devastation. Some of those pictures now coming in and you can see some of that devastation in Grozny.

President Putin, of course, immediately told about this and informed. It is a big blow to the Russian government because after all, they have been trying over and over again to say that life is slowly getting back to normal in Grozny. But it is very clear that anyone working for the Moscow controlled government has been a target and that building in particular is a major target. It's one of the few new buildings intact in the capital of Chechnya.

And to have some suicide bombers, which is another disturbing tendency that, or trend that's been taking place, is a big blow to the Russian government.

So, again, all we know at this point, numerous casualties, numerous people taken to the hospital and two explosions at that capital in Grozny.

KAGAN: Jill, on a personal note, you are one of the few Western journalists who's been able to get into that area in recent months and do some reporting from there. Give us an idea about conditions there and the dangerous nature of that assignment.

DOUGHERTY: Well, you know, in fact, Daryn, we were in that building about a year ago and on this last trip, which was just a few weeks ago, we were right next to that building. In fact, we were about to do a live shot at the television stations that have set up camp right inside the perimeter of that building. So I'm pretty familiar with it.

There was very, very tight security to get into it and if this is true that there were suicide bombers with a truck and a car, obviously that's what they wanted to do, was to make as much destruction as possible.

But it's very clear, people have, anyone who is associated with that government, with the Moscow side of it, has been attacked. People are constantly killed. A leading political figure machine gunned just the other day. Policemen constantly being killed.

So it's, the Russian government continues to say that it is time to get a normalization of the situation. But obviously this is a big blow to that theory.

KAGAN: Absolutely, a very dangerous place in the world.

In Chechnya, Jill Dougherty, joining us from Moscow.

Jill, thank you so much.

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