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Terrorist Attack in Jerusalem Kills At Least 8, Injures Over 170

Aired December 1, 2001 - 20:01   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.
DONNA KELLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As we've been telling you, there has been a terrorist attack in central Jerusalem on a crowded mall, three blasts, three explosions, two suicide bombers. The third was either a car bomb or a suicide bomber. Let's check in with our Jerrold Kessel. He is in Jerusalem. He can update us on the numbers and give us the latest information -- Jerrold.

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Donna, well, things have quieted down in central Jerusalem, but not in any way the spirits of this city, which have been devastated really by this triple blast in the center of the town.

And eight people are confirmed dead by Israeli police in addition to the two suicide bombers, and 170, more than 170 people are reported wounded from hospitals around the city, a number of them still in serious condition.

This was the scene shortly before midnight when the first two suicide bombers set off their blasts, and just as they were, as the rescue teams and relief squads were in the area and were ferrying away the wounded, there came the third still more devastating blast, not in terms of the number of casualties, but in terms of the intent clearly as it was set off in around the corner in about a block and a half away and there you have that blast which erupted.

Apparently, the Israeli police say, a car explosion, a car bomb, which was the third explosion, several people hurt there too and all in all eight dead and 170 wounded. Still no claim of responsibility from anybody. The Israelis are very quick to say that they don't need to know exactly which group of the Palestinian militants carried it out, if it were a Palestinian militant group that carried out this attack.

They say Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority are responsible, because says the Israeli government, Yasser Arafat has not done enough. He's done precious little to contain the militants and they hold him responsible for doing that.

The Palestinians say that they have done what they have needed to do in terms of controlling the militants. And this evening a very strong statement of condemnation from Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority of this terror outrage in Jerusalem, not only expressing condolences and regret at the loss of life and of the civilian casualties, but also in the terms of that statement, making it plain that they Palestinian Authority believes this is really counter to Palestinian interest, this kind of terror attack in the heart of Jerusalem.

So the two sides slanting at each other in the same way that they've often done in the past, but against that and perhaps in the middle, a very firm statement of demand from the United States, because this comes just five days after the United States launched a new major mediation mission in the person of retired Marine General Anthony Zinni who has come to the area with a mandate from Secretary of State Colin Powell and President Bush himself to stay in the area until he has got a solid cease fire in place.

General Zinni putting out a statement this evening saying, as he condemns this, what he called in the strongest possible terms, the vicious and evil terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. And tonight saying he had spoken with Yasser Arafat and made, in his words, absolutely clear that those responsible for planning and carrying out these attacks must be found and brought to justice.

And General Zinni goes on, "this is an urgent task. There can be no delays, no excuses for not acting immediately. These despicable actions" the U.S. envoy says "can only be prevented by the Palestinians acting in a comprehensive and sustained manner to route out terrorists and bring them to justice."

And perhaps the key phrase in the statement issued by the U.S. mediator this evening, he goes on to conclude saying "only a comprehensive and sustained effort by the Palestinian Authority, acting against the individuals responsible for such actions and the infrastructure of the groups that support them will lead to the end of such action."

So very strong words from the U.S. envoy and at this time, Prime Minister Sharon who is in the United States preparing for a meeting with President Bush, is hoping that that meeting, the Israeli officials confirming, they say that the meeting will be advanced from Monday until tomorrow, to tomorrow and Prime Minister Sharon will meet with President Bush at the White House tomorrow before flying urgently home to Israel to decide perhaps on what Israel's response will be to this terror outrage in the heart of Jerusalem. Donna.

KELLEY: All right, Jerrold Kessel in Jerusalem, thanks very much, reporting to us. Eight people have been killed, more than 170 have been injured.

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