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Conflict in the Middle East: Suicide Bomber Strikes Crowded Shopping Mall in Israel

Aired May 18, 2001 - 07:01   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.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: A suicide bomber has struck at a shopping mall in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya.

CNN's Sheila MacVicar is there, and she joins us on the telephone with what exactly is happening -- Sheila.

SHEILA MACVICAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: About 2 1/2 hours ago, a suicide bomber outside this mall on the outer edge of the coastal city of Netanya apparently detonated his bomb, blowing up himself, killing himself, and, the police now say, at least four others. There are 41 wounded here, 6 of them wounded critically, according to the police.

This is the sixth time since January that a bomb has exploded in this city. The most recent was just about a month ago, when a bomber blew himself up as he tried to get on a city bus.

In today's incident, police say that the guards at the shopping center were suspicious of the man. He was wearing an oversized blue coat on a very warm day. They prevented him from entering the mall. The police were called. As the police arrived, they saw the man blow up the bomb.

Now, Hezbollah TV, broadcasting from Beirut, says that the bomber was a 20-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank and that he was a member of the Islamic extremist group Hamas -- Carol.

LIN: We're watching some pictures that were taken a little bit earlier. I'm wondering if you could describe the scene around you as it is now?

MACVICAR: I'm standing about a hundred yards from the front door of the mall. You can see that it goes in, and there's sort of a pyramid or a triangular shape. The bomber was standing underneath and right in front of that entrance when he detonated the bomb. You can see that the facing -- the marble, the glass -- has fallen. Of course, the dead and the wounded have been taken away.

There is a small group, but a very loud group, of mostly young Israelis behind me, being kept back behind a police line, chanting, "Death to all Arabs."

The police have said it is simply, frankly, too early to know what kind of bomb it was or what kind of explosives were used. LIN: Sheila, you said that Netanya has been targeted before. Why this particular neighborhood or city?

MACVICAR: Netanya is, in fact, very close to the West Bank. Given the curves of the border that exist, Netanya is, in fact, probably only about 10 miles from the West Bank. There are many thousands of Palestinians who come in and out every day, most of them going to work, some of them going to school. So it's, in fact, relatively easy, according to the deputy minister -- the deputy head of public security, whom I spoke to just a little while ago -- for someone like this 20-year-old bomber to slip in amongst those people.

LIN: Thank you very much, Sheila MacVicar, reporting live, from Netanya.

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