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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Israelis, Palestinians Exchanging Fire in Compound

Aired March 29, 2002 - 07:41   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.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We are back with more breaking news now out of the Middle East. CNN can now confirm at least 25 of Yasser Arafat's security guards have been injured in an Israeli offensive there. Now word that the Israelis are opening fire on Arafat's office.

Michael Holmes joins us from Ramallah. Michael, can you confirm this?

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we can, Paula. We have spoken with a very senior Palestinian source, who was in the compound. He has told us that Israeli troops have entered the compound, including at least one tank, he tells us. He also tells us that those troops are firing on an office that is normally used by Yasser Arafat. We can only presume Yasser Arafat isn't in it at the moment. However, that office is taking direct fire, and Yasser Arafat's security forces are returning fire.

There is quite a fierce gun battle going on there right now. We can hear it in the background and also helicopters overhead. And we also hear shooting south of us as well down towards the El Amari refugee camp. Certainly, it has been a day of gunfire until now, and it's not letting up -- Paula.

ZAHN: And what kind of fire are the Palestinians capable of maintaining?

HOLMES: Most have small-arms fire, AK-47s, that sort of thing, fully-automatic weapons, but small arms compared to the might of the Israeli army. We have heard a lot of tank shells being fired, and I can hear helicopters overhead as well. And whether they are firing missiles or not, I can't confirm, but they are certainly capable of it.

So it's a -- but it is a fierce fight that is going on, and we are told that Yasser Arafat's security forces inside that compound are returning fire -- Paula.

ZAHN: All right. Michael Holmes, thanks so much for that update. We will be checking in with you throughout the morning.

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