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Car Bomb Detonates in Jerusalem

Aired May 26, 2001 - 18:01   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.
STEPHEN FRAZIER, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to begin in Jerusalem where, as we have been telling you, less than one hour ago a car exploded in a crowded part of the central city. Details are still sketchy. We do have some video of what happened. We know what happened in the central part of the city, near several nightclubs.

These are pictures that we have received from Israeli Television Channel Two, and there is what we believe is not car itself, but a neighboring car that caught fire. We don't know yet whether anyone was killed or injured. We are getting reports that this car which exploded was on the doorstep of the central headquarters of Jerusalem city police and details are still arriving to us as we speak.

So, once again, a car exploded in Central Jerusalem about an hour ago. No reports of injuries, but this caps a deadly week in that part of the world.

Let's turn now to CNN's producer Pierre Klochendler, who made his way to the scene on foot and is talking to us via cell phone from where all of this happening. Pierre, what can you tell us now?

PIERRE KLOCHENDLER, CNN PRODUCER: Yes, Stephen, I am standing about 50 meters from the scene of the car bomb which exploded about 14 minutes ago in this very busy part of Jerusalem. A very busy part of Jerusalem at night. It's at the Russian Compound for the Russian Office of the Church, which is there. It is close by the Jerusalem police headquarters.

But it seems that this car bomb was aiming at the crowd of young Israelis who usually gather here at night to enjoy a glass in the bars and cafes and dancing in discotheques. It's a very, very popular area for young Israelis. It was especially crowded because today is at the eve of the Jewish holiday of Shavout. It's a long weekend in Jerusalem, and against all odds, many young Israelis went to have a good time in the city center.

There are, as you said, no reports of causalities at this point. The police have sterilized area. They are not allowing anyone to come closer to the scene center from where I am standing because they are suspecting that the car may be loaded with more explosives and they're also suspecting that there could be other explosives in the vicinity.

Yesterday, only yesterday in the city of Hadera, in the central part of the state of Israel, there was a car bomb driven by two Islamic Jihad activists which exploded near the central bus station of the city of Hadera, causing casualties. Over 60 Israelis were wounded in that incident, in that attack yesterday.

So, Israelis are trying to have a long weekend, but it seems does not work for them. These two incidents are coming at a very critical time. William Burns, the assistant secretary of state and special enjoy to the Middle East, has just arrived few hours ago in Jerusalem. He is supposed to have held meetings with President Yasser Arafat in the West Bank city of Ramallah tomorrow, and later on on the -- during the day, he shall meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

So, it is a very critical time. Williams Burns is trying, maybe, to step up the American involvement in the Middle East, trying to bridge the gaps of the interpretation of the Israelis and the Palestinians regarding the Mitchell reports, which have published last Monday, its recommendation on how to restart the peace process by ceasing the violence on both sides and also by implementing a total freeze on Israeli settlements in occupied territories in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

FRAZIER: Very briefly, Pierre, you point out here that there have been a number of other car bombs, and the point of those is to disrupt normal life, make it almost impossible to live a normal life there. But if I understand you correctly, there were many young people in this popular night spot area tonight as this bomb went off?

KLOCHENDLER: Yes, indeed. When the bomb off, I was not very, very far away. I didn't hear the explosion, but I saw waves of people in a state of shock and panic running away from the site. There were rumors that a car bomb exploded made its way and within minutes, and people were already on their cell phones checking with their friends and their relatives and that no one from their friends and relatives were in the vicinity of that explosion.

It is indeed a place crowded with young Israelis, especially on a Saturday night evening, the day before the start of Tuesday's weekend holiday in Israel. Tomorrow evening starts the Jewish holiday of Shavout -- Stephen.

FRAZIER: At the scene, CNN producer Pierre Klochendler. Pierre, thank you for those details tonight. And we'll bring more details of this car explosion in Central Jerusalem as they reach us here in Atlanta.

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