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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Explosion Near Iraqi Foreign Ministry

Aired October 7, 2003 - 05:05   ET

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

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: We want to bring you up to date on Iraq now. As I told you at the top of our show, there's been some kind of explosion there near the Iraqi foreign ministry, which is also near the palace where U.S. forces and Paul Bremer's offices are. So, Harris Whitbeck is on the phone with us right now -- what can you tell us, Harris?
HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, people we speak to on the ground, U.S. soldiers and bystanders, eyewitnesses, say that an explosion was heard inside the foreign ministry complex. Sources from within the coalition provisional authority tell us that they believe a rocket propelled grenade was launched at the complex.

Now, a lieutenant colonel on the ground tells us that the foreign minister was not inside that building at the time, but there was a little bit of activity around here after that explosion was heard. There was gunfire on the street immediately surrounding this building.

As you say, this building is very near other sites that are used by both the U.S. military and the civilian U.S. authority in Iraq as their headquarters.

Right now there is a lot of military presence on the streets around here, U.S. soldiers patrolling the area in Humvees and in APCs, armored personnel carriers. People basically just standing around waiting to see what might happen next.

At this point, there has been no more gunfire in the last 15 minutes or so, but there are still a lot of concerned faces around here -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Can you tell us about the damage, Harris?

WHITBECK: It's really hard to say at this point, Carol. As you know, this building was severely damaged during the war, as we look at it, you know, we can still see a lot of, you know, burnt out floors and windows that are missing and such. But that seems to be damage that was inflicted during the actual war here.

From our vantage point we can't see any new damage. We can confirm that, in fact, an apparent RPG attack was launched against the foreign ministry.

COSTELLO: And tell us again who's inside the foreign ministry. We know the Iraqi foreign minister is probably inside there. But who else? WHITBECK: Well, actually, we were told by a U.S. lieutenant colonel on the ground that the fashion minister was not inside the building at the time of the attack. But the building is filled with people who work in the foreign ministry, bureaucrats and (AUDIO GAP)...

COSTELLO: You're cutting out, Harris.

Harris, we're going to have to wrap you. We'll ask you those questions a little later when we get a better signal from your cell phone. As you know, it's pretty hard to get a clear signal sometimes from Baghdad, especially when there's something going on.

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