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Suicide Bomber Kills Six Near Jerusalem Market

Aired April 12, 2002 - 14:20   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.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: This was the scene on Jaffa Road just five hours ago. A suicide bomber detonating herself, a woman belonging to the Al Aqsa Martyr Brigade on that busy street just outside of a busy market area next to a bus stop in central Jerusalem.

We have seen now the continuation, frankly, of women entering the suicide bombing picture. And the first one that we know of happened just about 3 1/2 months ago. The 27th of January, a shopping mall hit in Jerusalem. The 29th of March a supermarket hit, also in Jerusalem. And today, April 12th, Jaffa Road. Six dead right now, 65 others are wounded.

Along that road, just minutes before the bomb went off, it was quite remarkable to everybody, including myself, just how calm the area had become. We were about two hours before the sundown. Just about two hours before Sabbath was to begin. And it was quite interesting and quite pleasant, actually, to drive along that road and, frankly, see people out shopping, to see people out moving around. To see people out doing business.

I remember, quite directly, seeing a man operate his juice stand. He was cleaning down the area and making sure everything was ready for his customers. He had none. Business around here has been quite hard hit, especially in the past several months here. But nonetheless, with the sun shining and a beautiful day, with nice, warm temperatures, this was clearly of picture of devastation that ripped through the area today earlier this afternoon in Jerusalem.

Jason Bellini was also there, quickly arriving on the scene a short time later. We have seen some of your tape, Jason. Once again, take us back to your experience along Jaffa Road, about 4:15 earlier today.

JASON BELLINI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Bill. I was in the market. I was actually in the middle of doing a piece to air. I was in front of the camera and heard the blast behind me. For a moment there, everything seemed to stand still as people were looking around trying to figure out what had just happened. We heard this blast and I -- I know myself, wanted to believe that it was anything but a bomb.

Then people started running out of the market area in confusion, not sure which direction to go. Not sure what direction the blast had come from. As we were exiting the market, we had to go past two barriers, where just -- where before when I entered the market, there were standing two very big security guards with very big guns.

We had to go past those blockades and then back out on to Jaffa Road, where there were people running in every direction. Many of the walking wounded were at that point running, getting help. And civilians were picking people up and carrying them away, helping the people who were bleeding. Some very serious injuries, people bleeding from the head, people bleeding from their limbs. Very horrifying scene right there.

HEMMER: One of the things that I saw I thought was quite remarkable was how quickly the police had responded. Literally within minutes, they had sealed off a number of roads. They were already pushing people away from the area. But, again, police here in Jerusalem have a lot of experience on events like these, Jason.

BELLINI: Absolutely. And like I said before, the police were there guarding the market. And as I was walking in, I certainly noticed them. And I noticed them noticing me. They were checking out everyone who was coming and going from that market.

So I think, within the market itself, people seemed very calm and felt very lax and felt very safe. And so when this blast occurred, people were really shocked. I too was impressed by how quickly emergency services arrived. They were there within four or five minutes. And at least 10 ambulances arrived on the scene within the first 20 minutes. And sadly, all those ambulances and all of those gurneys were needed.

HEMMER: The market was crowded. Going by there several minutes before the blast went off, dozens and dozens of shoppers inside there. The contrary, essentially, to the view we've seen in that market over the past several weeks. But you know, Jason, if you just look at the numbers. Sixty-five injured. That was a very crowded street at that time.

BELLINI: Absolutely. And I know people from the market who had just bought food. Because the markets do close Friday night and they won't be open -- they wouldn't open again until Sunday. So people were picking up their food. They were waiting for the bus, to stake their food home.

That's why, next to the bus, when you got a look at where the blast detonated, you could see vegetables all over the ground. I remember seeing a watermelon that was split in half. It was just a devastating scene there right around -- right around that bus stop.

And there was a lot of activity. Because I think people were doing their last-minute preparations for the Shabbat holiday.

HEMMER: All right, Jason, thanks. Jason Bellini with this exclusive videotape, arriving on the scene within minutes of when that bomb blast went off.

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