The Web    CNN.com      Powered by
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SERVICES
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
SEARCH
Web CNN.com
powered by Yahoo!
TRANSCRIPTS


 

Return to Transcripts main page

CNN BREAKING NEWS

Attacks in Istanbul

Aired November 20, 2003 - 05:00   ET

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

DAVID CLINCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL EDITOR: They've played a key role in the region and they are an ally of the United States.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: And at one point they were going to send troops into Iraq, but then they changed their minds because they wanted the OK from the Iraqi Governing Council. So it's all connected here.

CLINCH: It is connected, although, again, we are not sure who's carrying out these attacks, and we need to clarify that. It's not impossible it could be something more internal and that the targeting of British targets is accidental. We don't know that. We're looking into it. But it has the earmarks of an international terrorist act of one kind or another and it is certainly going to be on the agenda as President Bush and Prime Minister Blair speak in London today.

COSTELLO: Yes, let's talk more about that.

We do have our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux live with us from London right now.

And while Suzanne can't specifically talk about this, you can talk about how it fits into everything now with the talks scheduled between Tony Blair and President Bush.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Carol. There's no official White House reaction yet. But, of course, this fits into the president's argument, an argument that he made yesterday before an audience here in London, one that he, again, he will make with Prime Minister Blair is that this is a war on terror that is broad, that is global and that is in need of international support.

One of the key tests that the Bush administration is undergoing at this time is whether or not they can win more international support for this reconstruction effort inside of Iraq and whether or not President Bush can really turn the tide of public opinion here. Most Europeans were against the war in Iraq. Most are against trying to actually put in forces or really a great deal of financial commitment in terms of its reconstruction. That is something that the president is trying to do in his very visit here is trying to convince people that, yes, that it's in the interests of those here in London, that it's in the interests of those in Germany and France to get involved here, that it is not a safe world and that the president has said before on numerous occasions about these attacks that there is a war and it is against these terrorists and that it is in the interests of others to get involved -- Carol.

COSTELLO: And, Suzanne, we want to pause for just a moment to bring our audience up to date.

Those of you just joining DAYBREAK now, you're looking at pictures live from Istanbul, Turkey. Three bombs have been planted, one at a shopping mall, one at the British, near the British consulate, I should say, and one at an international bank with British ties. All three of these targets in Istanbul, Turkey connected in some way to Britain.

We understand the latest casualty figures, three people are dead. But this is truly a breaking story. Many more could be dead. You can see that there are ambulances on the scene carrying the wounded away from these targeted sites.

Now back to Suzanne in Britain.

What a contrast. Just a short time ago, President Bush was in Westminster Abbey laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and honoring those British soldiers killed in Iraq.

MALVEAUX: Yes, Carol, you bring up a very good point. There's also going to be a very poignant moment later this morning when the president is going to be meeting with the families of those British citizens and soldiers who were killed in the war with Iraq, those who were side by side with American soldiers. This incident, this tragic incident today makes it that much more difficult for the Bush administration to make the case, to make the argument that it is worth it for international forces to get involved on the ground inside of the country and also to realize, when they realize that they, too, could become targets if they align themselves too much with the United States or with the West.

COSTELLO: You know, and I wonder, too, these massive demonstrations are planned within Britain today and you have to wonder whether this will have any effect on those demonstrators.

MALVEAUX: Well, that's a very good question. But overwhelmingly many people here were vehemently against the war in Iraq, are vehemently against this war on terror. Clearly, there was, however, there is a sense of empathy between the British and Americans, particularly when it comes to September 11. There was an incredible outpouring of support from British citizens. But very divergent views when it comes to how to deal with that, to deal with that threat of terror.

That is something that both leaders, Prime Minister Blair as well as the president, are going to have to try to figure out, how do they bridge that gap between the West, between the United States and the European Union, the divisions between Germany and France. President Bush, on many occasions, trying to make the case that differences over the war, that we've put that behind us, that we move on, that this world will not be safe unless there are many nations and many leaders that get involved in taking on these terrorists.

COSTELLO: All right, Suzanne, stand by for just a second.

On the phone right now, we have Chris Kitrinos, who lives in Istanbul.

He's an English teacher.

And, Chris, are you an American citizen?

CHRIS KITRINOS, ENGLISH TEACHER IN ISTANBUL: Yes. Chris Kitrinos. I'm an American citizen from Los Angeles. I'm teaching English in Istanbul now.

COSTELLO: And you were teaching at a school next door to the British consulate, is that correct?

KITRINOS: Yes. My school is in Taxim (ph) in the Bayolu (ph) area of Istanbul. It's just footsteps away from the English embassy. There's a large wall surrounding the embassy. It's heavily trafficked with pedestrians, automobiles. There are thousands of people walking around that area at any time of the day in front of the school and along the street and the street surrounding the embassy.

COSTELLO: Tell us what you're seeing now.

KITRINOS: Right now it's a scene of total chaos. The streets are filled with smoke. People are afraid to leave their buildings, their offices, their shops. There's not a lot of information being given to the -- to anybody. There's a lot of confusion, a lot of panic. There are many, many unconfirmed reports, casualties. Emergency services, emergency vehicles are having difficulty getting in and out of these areas in Taxim because of the area being so crowded, so many people and such chaos.

COSTELLO: Were you...

KITRINOS: I've been...

COSTELLO: Chris, were you in the school at the time that this bomb went off next door?

KITRINOS: No, no. I was on the phone with an office manager of the school, who said at the time of the explosion, there was a very, very loud noise and the windows of the school were blown out. Then, after that, of course, it was just total chaos and people panicking and running, not really sure what had happened.

COSTELLO: Living in Turkey, Chris...

KITRINOS: I'm sorry?

COSTELLO: How long have you lived in Turkey?

KITRINOS: It'll be one year shortly.

COSTELLO: Is this unusual? Tell us what the mood has been there in Istanbul.

KITRINOS: You know, during the war with Iraq, there had been, of course, some demonstrations in Istanbul. As you might know, Istanbul, Turkey is predominantly Muslim. However, it's a very modern society here in Istanbul and in this democratic country. These people are wonderful. These are beautiful people, very, very friendly and warm toward Americans and other foreigners, tourists. My friends and family in America were concerned for my safety because of the fear of worldwide terrorism and the negative feeling towards Muslims who had been associated with the terrorism.

But the people here are very nice. You know, I thought that it was very safe here. I -- right now I'm shocked. I'm shocked that this has happened. I never before felt insecure or afraid for my safety. But today is a new day and this country is upside down right now. People are furious, very angry because this is a peaceful country. These people don't understand why Muslims are being targeted. This is a Muslim country. These people don't have any ill feeling toward Iraq or Afghanistan, anything like this. These people can't understand why their city, this country is being targeted.

COSTELLO: Well, Chris, let me ask you this. Was there some thought that Western targets could be targeted in light of all that's been happening in the world within Turkey?

KITRINOS: Absolutely. The American embassy has recently moved to a new location, a bit away from downtown Istanbul. And it's a much, much more modern location and very, very secure. I was recently at the new American embassy and I was astounded at the level of security and the fortress like atmosphere in the new American consulate.

It is a giant, a gigantic fortress, very, very safe, completely restricted from pedestrian and vehicle traffic, unlike the English embassy right now in Taxim and the previous American consulate, both of them being situated in older buildings, historic buildings in a very old and historic area of Istanbul. These streets and areas are very heavily crowded with cars and pedestrians shopping, eating, restaurants, nightclubs. It's a very congested area.

Of course we thought that Western locations could be targets, but we were all under the, I suppose, the false hope that this type of terrorism wouldn't reach us, being that this is a peaceful country and also a Muslim country.

COSTELLO: Well, let me ask you this, Chris. And I don't know what the newspapers are saying there, but they're, you know, they're trying to find out who is responsible for this, is it international terrorism or did the terrorists come from within Turkey.

What are the newspapers saying?

KITRINOS: The two recent bombings at the Jewish synagogues, the newspaper is reporting that two men were identified through DNA evidence as being Turkish citizens having ties to al Qaeda. They apparently were trained at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan. This is what I've read from Turkish newspapers and the Turkish media, that these people...

COSTELLO: Well, hold on for just a second, Chris. I want to check in with our senior international editor about this.

The people responsible for blowing up the synagogues in Turkey, what, was it last week, a couple days ago?

CLINCH: Yes.

COSTELLO: Do we know where they were from?

CLINCH: Well, again, as I said earlier, it has been established that they were Turks. There are suggestions...

COSTELLO: I must interrupt you.

I'm sorry.

CLINCH: Yes?

COSTELLO: The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, the British foreign secretary, is coming out of 10 Downing Street to speak.

So let's listen in.

JACK STRAW, BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER: What has happened in Istanbul this morning are clearly appalling acts of terrorism. We still obviously do not have complete details by any means. But it appears there have been five, at least, bomb blasts, which were coordinated, including one on the HSBC headquarters and another on the British consulate general building.

You're aware that there are already a number of reports of deaths and serious injuries.

I've just spoken to Peter Westmacott, who's a British ambassador in Ankara. He is now on his way, in the Turkish minister of the interior's airplane, to Istanbul.

So far as British employees at the consulate general are concerned, there are three or four who have not reported to the local and we are obviously making every effort to identify what has happened to those individuals.

I intend to make a statement at 12:30 in the House of Commons. At this stage, we cannot say for certain who has been responsible for this appalling act of terrorism in Istanbul, which comes on top of the savage outrage against the Jewish and Muslim people in Istanbul last Saturday. But I'm afraid to say it has all the hallmarks of the international terrorism practiced by al Qaeda and the associated organizations. And it reemphasizes the central message of President Bush and Prime Minister Blair and all other world leaders about the fact that we face a very serious threat of international terrorism and that the whole of the international community has to understand and accept its responsibilities for dealing with it.

I'll take a question. QUESTION: Will it in any way affect today's visit? Obviously, if terrorism is being perpetrated in Istanbul, there must be fears there could be a serious incident here in London today.

STRAW: Well, of course, this will be a major subject of discussion between Prime Minister Blair and President Bush. It will feature at their press conference at 12:15. We have been alive to potential threats from terrorists for many years in this country and we take every step we can to deal with those.

QUESTION: Do you acknowledge, foreign secretary, that the war in Iraq has done nothing to prevent these kind of attacks? And, indeed, some people argue it's made them more likely and more likely to (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

STRAW: I disagree with you profoundly. What people have got to remember is that the 11th of September happened in 2001 and not in 2003. It was planned under the presidency of Bill Clinton, even if it were executed under the presidency of George W. Bush. And there were scores and scores of the most serious terrorist outrages before it was necessary to take military action in Iraq, not afterwards.

Thank you very much, indeed.

COSTELLO: All right, you've just been listening to the foreign secretary, the British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, talking about these explosions in Istanbul. He's confirmed there were five explosions. The five targets all had British links.

I want to bring in David Clinch once again just to talk a little bit more about this.

He says that these attacks in Istanbul bear all the hallmarks of al Qaeda.

CLINCH: That is exactly what he said, and, again, confirming that this will be on the agenda, most likely on the top of the agenda now on the talks between Prime Minister Blair and President Bush. The coincidence of what we're seeing here is terrorist attacks targeting British targets in a key Western NATO ally, Turkey, which is also a moderate Muslim country in the Middle East.

He was asked a very pertinent question there by a British reporter, has the military action in Iraq done anything to prevent these kinds of attacks?

His answer was somewhat convoluted, but he's convinced that the action in Iraq is preventing terrorist attacks, but that terrorist attacks like this can and will happen before September the 11th, before the war in Iraq, after the war in Iraq, and there is only so much that you can do to prevent them.

We were looking at British reports, the BBC was reporting last weekend that Britain had moved to a higher level of security in Britain, we were told, but also around the world within the last few days, in the, based on intelligence of impending attacks. Now, at the time, that seemed to fit into the pattern of the security we were seeing being put in place in London for President Bush's trip. But obviously British targets are all over the world, in the same way as U.S. targets are all over the world. And as Secretary Straw made clear, there is only so much that you can do to prevent these terrorist attacks.

COSTELLO: It's just interesting that British institutions were targeted in Turkey and not American.

CLINCH: It is. I don't exactly how to interpret that at this point. It's not clear. I mean it does not fit precisely, perhaps, in the same way as the attacks on the Jewish targets did to the emerging pattern of al Qaeda hitting what you could call softer or less obvious targets, that you simply cannot offer security for every Jewish target around the world. You can't offer security for every U.N. office around the world, that kind of thing. You can beef up security at consulates and there obviously are going to be questions about how much security was available and was around the British consulate in Ankara.

COSTELLO: And you heard Chris, our English teacher teaching English in Turkey, in Istanbul, that the American embassy moved to a safer location and was fortified. You could not get close to it, unlike the British consulate there.

CLINCH: Very interesting to hear that. And Straw pointing out that the British ambassador, who is based in Ankara, the capital, is now heading to Istanbul to, first of all, assess casualties and damage, but presumably, again, there will be a question and an investigation into what security was available and around the consulate there in Istanbul.

COSTELLO: I want to quickly go live to Iraq now and Baghdad and Jane Arraf, because there were explosions there, too, this morning. I don't know if everything's connected. Who knows in the world we live in today?

There were explosions, Jane, in Ramadi and Kirkuk, right?

JANE ARRAF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Carol.

Not just that. I hate to bring you more bad news, but there were explosions to the west and north of Baghdad. News of an official assassinated in Basra in the south.

Now, in one of them this morning, just a couple of hours ago, an apparent car bomb exploded outside the office of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Now, that is one of the two main Kurdish factions and it's actually headed by Jalal Talabani, who is now head of the Governing Council here. At least two people, sorry, four people, according to the PUK, that political party, were killed in that blast. Several others injured.

And in Ramadi, which is about 60 miles west of British, last night what appeared to be another car bomb and attack on the home of a major tribal official. Now, this is one of the heads of the Jalani clan, which is the major tribe in that area. He wasn't killed, nor was his relative next door. But two other members of the family were believed to have been. Iraqi police there are saying at least eight other people, sorry, at least eight people might have died instead of the two reported by U.S. officials.

And news this morning that the body of a Christian politician in the south, in Basra, has been found this morning. According to his political party, he was shot to death two days ago -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Oh, all, many Americans were hoping, Jane, that this new tactic that the coalition forces were using would stop this kind of thing. I don't even know what you can say about it. Can you react at all to that?

ARRAF: Well, that is the question we keep asking military officials, because they have engaged in the strongest show of force, perhaps, in many months, including aerial attacks on targets, bombardments throughout the night. But still, these attacks, the attacks against U.S. forces, and, as we've seen today and last night, against people allied with the coalition and other Iraqis, are continuing. Indeed, they're up to at some days more than 30 attacks or attempted attacks a day.

So they're not having that impact yet. But U.S. officials say they are going to keep hammering away at the people they believe are responsible. It's just it's not entirely clear at this point who exactly might be behind these attacks -- Carol.

COSTELLO: And that Iraqi governing officials were killed in this morning's attacks, it brings to mind that tape just released, supposedly by Saddam Hussein, urging Iraqis to target those helping Americans.

ARRAF: Those killed, it's not clear whether they were actually part of the PUK, the Kurdish party -- who's the head of that party, heading the governing coalition. We're still waiting for details on that. But certainly it is an ongoing threat and an ongoing fear of anyone.

Now, you remember that one member of the governing coalition, the Governing Council itself, Akila Hashimi, a woman, was assassinated. They still have not replaced her.

Now, the Governing Council is going to go away, to be replaced by something else. But it really does prevent people from stepping forward and saying they want to work in these institutions, or even in the police. It is one of the biggest targets out there. It takes a terribly brave person these days in Iraq to want to be able to work with the Americans -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Well, they're still hanging in there and we're glad of that.

Jane Arraf reporting live from Baghdad.

We'll get back to you later on on DAYBREAK. We want to go live again to Turkey to show you the latest pictures we're getting in.

In case you're joining us -- just joining us, I should say -- five separate explosions in Istanbul, Turkey, all targeting targets with British ties.

Chris Kitrinos, an English teacher teaching English in Istanbul, on the phone with us right now.

What are you seeing now, Chris?

Or maybe I should ask where you are.

KITRINOS: I'm away from the scene I'm in a suburb called Buchekmija (ph), which is some distance from the center of Istanbul. It's a very safe location. So right now I'm in no danger.

COSTELLO: Well, that's a good thing.

But tell us what you saw before you left the danger zone, so to speak.

KITRINOS: It's a scene of complete chaos. The streets are full of smoke. The windows of my school were blown out. The wall, part of the wall around the embassy has collapsed. Police are on the scene. There are, they're cordoning off sections, restricting access. There are many restaurants and stores and shops in that area. All of them are in ruins. There are cars in pieces.

I didn't see and I can't confirm, but I was told of at least one death at the location of the British consulate. Part of the wall apparently had collapsed onto a pedestrian.

Again, I can't confirm that, but that's what I've been told.

I was also told that moments before the explosion at the British consulate, a large white vehicle was reported to have been speeding through that area and was involved in the explosion. I can't confirm that, but that's what I've been told.

COSTELLO: Yes, right now we can confirm there are three deaths because of these explosions in Istanbul. The British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, spoke just moments ago at 10 Downing Street. He said three to four people have not reported for work at the British consulate.

Another target was an international bank with British ties, in also a residential area where many Britons live. And I don't know about the other two targets, Chris.

Have you heard anything more about them?

KITRINOS: Well, you know, for example, I agree, the embassy, of course, being a British target. HSBC having not only British ties, but international. It's an international bank. The other locations, to me, seemed very random. The shopping mall, a Metro City mall in Lavent (ph) and Britons living in the area. I can't confirm that either. This is a very international city. I can't say that Lavent is any more British than any other area.

All places in Istanbul have foreigners. So I can't say that all of these attacks were targeted at Britons. I don't think that's completely true.

COSTELLO: Well, this is according to the British foreign secretary. You know, Chris, he also said that these attacks had all the earmarks of al Qaeda. That must frighten you.

KITRINOS: Absolutely. It really disturbs me. I can't understand why this organization has chosen to target Istanbul. It just seems a very unlikely place to bring, to cause this type of destruction and to target Muslims. I don't understand why this is happening here. I'm shocked. I'm completely shocked. The whole country is shocked. The prime minister apparently has gone back to Ankara. He's canceled his plans. This is, it's madness. We don't...

COSTELLO: Well, apparently the targets, you know, the two synagogues that were bombed just a short time ago were targeting Jews in Istanbul and these latest targets apparently were targeting Westerners, British specifically. So I don't know that they're really targeting Muslims, although...

KITRINOS: But I mean you're...

COSTELLO: Go ahead.

KITRINOS: My point is that, yes, these people are being targeted, but the casualties reported so far are predominantly Turkish Muslims that have been killed in these attacks. Maybe, of course, the Jewish, the synagogues were, the terrorists were targeting the Jewish people. And today, as we've been watching, buildings and locations associated with Britain. However, let's remember that this is Turkey and Turks are being killed, many, many Turks are being killed, Turkish Muslims.

COSTELLO: I understand.

Thank you.

Chris, can you hold on for just a second?

We want to head live back to London.

We have our correspondent Robin Oakley live now at 10 Downing Street -- Robin, you were listening to Jack Straw, weren't you?

Can you give us more reaction from Britain?

ROBIN OAKLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, indeed. Obviously there is shock and outrage in Britain at the news of these explosions in Istanbul and the deaths, Carol. Obviously, this is casting a shadow over the visit of President George Bush, the state visit. But it's also proving confirmation of his prediction in his speech yesterday that attacks like this will go on, that Western governments will have to continue to be vigilant and to show resolve against international terrorism.

We had Jack Straw here in the street, in Downing Street, saying that although they couldn't be sure who was behind these latest attacks, that they bore all the hallmarks of al Qaeda and their associated organizations.

So we will see direct comment within an hour or two from George Bush and Tony Blair, when they have a press conference. Jack Straw himself will be going to the House of Commons within the next two hours to give British parliamentarians greater detail about what has happened in Istanbul, which obviously is still being pieced together.

But it will very much overshadow the visit, of course, on a day when tens of thousands are expected to demonstrate in the streets of London against George Bush's policies in Iraq, policies that have, of course, been fully supported by Tony Blair -- Carol.

COSTELLO: You know, Robin, I'm searching my memory for another time that the British were specifically targeted in terrorist attacks in other countries.

Can you help me with that?

OAKLEY: Well, there certainly have been attacks on a limited scale on different British embassies on different occasions. I'd have to search my memory, too, rather hard, Carol, to find a similar incident in the very recent past. But certainly many British embassies in many countries are on high alert these days. Ever since 9/11, that has been true. And, of course, with Britain's role alongside the U.S., both in Afghanistan and in Iraq, it's been recognized that Britain and British outposts abroad are a major target.

And one reason for the massive security while the president is here in London is that London has been on a very high alert for some weeks now, with talk of a possible attack by al Qaeda sympathizers from North Africa living in Britain. Those warnings, those intelligence warnings have not been specifically linked to the president's visit, but the fact that they are there as a permanent factor of life almost in Britain now, coinciding with the president's visit, has certainly led to this massive security that we're seeing here while he is here -- Carol.

COSTELLO: You know, I guess what I'm getting at is although British soldiers did die in the war in Iraq, certainly not as many as U.S. soldiers have died. And American targets overseas have been the targets of terrorists much more often than British targets. The British people already pretty much don't like the fact that Britain is involved in Iraq at all. So you have to wonder what these incidents will do to sentiment in Britain.

OAKLEY: Well, indeed. Those who have opposed the war -- and interestingly, there has been, according to the opinion polls in Britain, rather a move back towards support for saying that the war in Iraq was a good thing over the last month or two. And that has followed the attacks in Iraq on the U.N. and the Red Cross, the other bombings and attacks in Saudi Arabia, in Istanbul, and so on.

And it seems that the degree of terrorist activity that there is now is perhaps confirming more British people to support that action rather than making them have doubts about it -- Carol.

And, of course, those who have opposed the war will argue that the attack in Iraq has made likely an increase in international terrorism, but that is countered by Tony Blair and his ministers on every occasion they can -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Have the demonstrators hit the streets yet, Robin?

OAKLEY: Well, I've been standing here in Downing Street for some hours and I haven't heard anything from Whitehall outside as yet. The demonstrations aren't expected to gather force until later in the day, and they're starting some way away from here. So we haven't really got the means of judging that from Downing Street at the moment -- Carol.

COSTELLO: And I know earlier this morning, the president was at Westminster Abbey, along with British officials. They were laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, which was a very touching ceremony.

Where are the president and Tony Blair right now? Do you know?

OAKLEY: Well, the president was having a tour of Westminster Abbey, a wonderful monument to architecture built between the 13th and 16th centuries, where all the British kings and queens have their coronations and many famous people are laid to rest and memorials to many of the great people of the past. So I think George Bush has been having a tour there before he comes to Downing Street to meet up with Tony Blair. And they'll have about three hours of talks, including a half an hour or so for a press conference with the international media.

But I don't think they've met up yet -- Carol.

COSTELLO: And, of course, the president and Tony Blair were, as you said, planning to speak, but, of course, these bombings change things, don't they?

OAKLEY: Well, inevitably the bombings overshadow a visit like this and maybe some of the battles that they might otherwise have had in their talks over issues like the U.S. steel tariffs, which are very much resented by Britain and by other European leaders, and the question of what happens to British suspects held among those terrorist suspects in Guantanamo Bay, which many British law makers want to see Tony Blair bring back to Britain for trial, those arguments will, perhaps, pale into less significance now and there will be much more focus on the question of what happens from now on in Iraq and what happens in the war against international terrorism. I think those subjects will now very much come to the fore in their talks -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Yes, the White House, we just got word from the White House that they are monitoring the situation. They acknowledged that these attacks in Istanbul, Turkey were terrorist attacks and they'll have more to say later.

Do we still have Chris on the phone?

KITRINOS: Hello?

COSTELLO: Not at the moment. Chris was a...

KITRINOS: Hello?

COSTELLO: Chris, you're back.

KITRINOS: Yes.

Hi.

COSTELLO: Chris is an English teacher. He'd been teaching English in Istanbul, Turkey. He was not at the school, but he does teach at a school right next door to the British consulate.

And, by the way, if you're just joining us, let me bring you up to date before we get into Chris for just a second. In Istanbul, Turkey, at least five explosions, five separate explosions all targeting British institutions, British residential areas -- let me just go down the list here. A shopping mall was targeted in a residential area where we believe many Britons live. Also, the British consulate and an international bank with British ties. The two other targets we're not sure of right now, because as you can see from these pictures, the situation in Istanbul, Turkey is rather chaotic right now.

Chris, your school is right next door to that British consulate.

Tell us again what you're hearing from your coworkers there.

KITRINOS: At the moment of the explosion, the windows were blown out and there was a tremendous noise. What they're telling me is that it's very chaotic. People are afraid to leave their buildings, their offices, restaurants and shops. The streets are full of smoke. There's a lot of damage, heavy, heavy damage. People are very, very frightened, crying, panicking. Cell phones aren't working, I'm being told. It's a scene of total chaos and fear right now.

COSTELLO: Tell us about this shopping mall area that was targeted.

KITRINOS: The shopping mall is brand new, actually. It was completed this year. It's called Metro City Mall. It's exactly like any Western mall that you would find in America. It's very, very big; very, very modern; and also very crowded, of course, and busy. It's below ground, as well as above ground. And it is associated with our metro system here. The metro does run through this mall into the Levant area.

COSTELLO: Is this shopping mall in the midst of some kind of residential area?

KITRINOS: It's a business area, but there are, of course, you know, many, many, many apartment buildings in this area. It's, Istanbul is a very big city. It would be, you could say that it's residential. There are apartments. But I would associate Levant where the mall is as being somewhat of a business area. Levant is a popular suburb, a popular place to live. It's a nice area.

COSTELLO: Kind of a yuppie kind of place to live, would you say?

KITRINOS: You could say that. I don't think that term has made it over here yet. But it's a more modern area in Istanbul. It's more modern than the Taxim-Bayolu area.

COSTELLO: And, also, the third target that we know of, the international bank, tell us about that and that area.

KITRINOS: That's a very, very large bank and it's a very busy street. Again, that's in a business area. It's a very, very large complex and from the pictures that I've seen, the facade has suffered a lot of damage. I don't know of any casualties, but it's a very busy area.

COSTELLO: And it is a British bank, right?

KITRINOS: HSBC is an international bank. It's all over the world. I don't know specifically what are the ties to England, but I believe HSBC stands for Hong Kong Shanghai Bank. I don't know the ties to Britain, but like I said before, it's a worldwide bank, a very, very large global bank.

COSTELLO: I understand.

What are authorities telling you, if anything, you specifically and your neighbors, about going out onto the streets, etc., etc.?

KITRINOS: Terrified. People are afraid to leave their offices and buildings right now in fear that there will be more explosions. I've been told that the airport is -- there's some chaos at the airport. People are afraid that that is the next target. So right now people are very confused, very shaken and very afraid to make their next move. People want to go home, I'm being told, that are afraid to go out onto the street from their offices.

COSTELLO: Chris, stay with us.

The British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, spoke just a short time ago from 10 Downing Street about these incidents in Turkey.

Let's listen to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JACK STRAW, BRITISH FOREIGN MINISTER: What has happened in Istanbul this morning are clearly appalling acts of terrorism. We still obviously do not have complete details by any means. But it appears there have been five, at least, bomb blasts, which were coordinated, including one on the HSBC headquarters and another on the British consulate general building.

You're aware that there are already a number of reports of deaths and serious injuries.

I've just spoken to Peter Westmacott, who's a British ambassador in Ankara. He is now on his way, in the Turkish minister of the interior's airplane, to Istanbul.

So far as British employees at the consulate general are concerned, there are three or four who have not reported to the local and we are obviously making every effort to identify what has happened to those individuals.

I intend to make a statement at 12:30 in the House of Commons. At this stage, we cannot say for certain who has been responsible for this appalling act of terrorism in Istanbul, which comes on top of the savage outrage against the Jewish and Muslim people in Istanbul last Saturday. But I'm afraid to say it has all the hallmarks of the international terrorism practiced by al Qaeda and the associated organizations. And it reemphasizes the central message of President Bush and Prime Minister Blair and all other world leaders about the fact that we face a very serious threat of international terrorism and that the whole of the international community has to understand and accept its responsibilities for dealing with it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: All right, that's the foreign secretary, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw talking about these attacks.

Chris, you heard him say that these attacks have all the earmarks of al Qaeda.

That just, that just must be so frightening for you to hear.

KITRINOS: Yes, it is frightening.

COSTELLO: Was there any sentiment among those living in Turkey that al Qaeda could go to work within that country?

KITRINOS: Well, Turkey is such a peaceful place now, it has been. Istanbul has always felt very safe to me. Of course, this is a Muslim nation, but these people are beautiful and warm and very hospitable. I was perhaps a little bit afraid when I first moved here. I wasn't sure how I would be received as a Westerner. But my fears quickly dissolved as I was welcomed very warmly into this country and into this Muslim lifestyle.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


International Edition
CNN TV CNN International Headline News Transcripts Advertise With Us About Us
SEARCH
   The Web    CNN.com     
Powered by
© 2005 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us.
external link
All external sites will open in a new browser.
CNN.com does not endorse external sites.
 Premium content icon Denotes premium content.
Add RSS headlines.