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CNN BREAKING NEWS

CENTCOM: Casualties in Car Bomb Attack Near Najaf

Aired March 29, 2003 - 04:24   ET

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

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: As we reported just a moment ago, according to the Associated Press, "A suicide bomber kills five Americans in an attack in Najaf."
Tom Mintier is standing by at CENTCOM headquarters in Doha, Qatar with the latest.

Tom -- what do you know?

TOM MINTIER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, CENTCOM has confirmed the incident, that a car bomb, an apparent suicide car bomb at a military checkpoint in the 3rd Infantry Division near the southern city of Najaf was detonated earlier this morning.

They do confirm that there were casualties from the explosion. They say there were two people in the car, will not say how many were killed or injured surrounding this checkpoint, but apparently a car laden with explosives pulled up to the checkpoint and was detonated.

Now, this marks the first time that we've seen this type of action, true guerrilla-style tactics that we have seen elsewhere in the Middle East, where car bombings are frequent. But as far as this type of activity in the current conflict in Iraq, having a car bomb pull up and be detonated at a military checkpoint, it is indeed the first time we've seen that.

But CENTCOM is confirming the incident took place. Initially about an hour ago, they said they had heard of it, and now they're confirming that there has been a car bombing at a military checkpoint in the southern-most city of Najaf.

COOPER: Tom, I'm not sure if CENTCOM made any sort of statement on this, but if they did, have they characterized what the level of activity, what the level of fighting is in Najaf at this moment?

MINTIER: No, they haven't. It will be a question probably in two-and-a-half hours that will be raised at this briefing. You know, there has been this talk of a pause, or whatever you want to call it, in the campaign to re-arm, re-group and re-supply, but all indications on the ground that we've been hearing is that that is simply not taking place, as you could recognize it outwardly.

We talked to the British spokesman in the last hour or so, and he said that, yes, there is re-arming and re-supplying going on, but the campaign continues as well.

COOPER: All right, Tom Mintier, and that press conference, as you mentioned, is in about two-and-a-half hours from now, 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time. CNN will bring that to you live.

Tom, thanks very much.

A conflict that has seen white flags used as cover, that has seen civilians used as shields, that has seen hospitals and schools used as headquarters for irregular forces has apparently now seen a suicide bombing.

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