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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Iraqi Opposition Group Occupying Iraqi Embassy in Berlin

Aired August 20, 2002 - 09:42   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We go back to Berlin, where we've got more breaking news, the reported occupation of the Iraqi embassy in Berlin, Germany. On the phone CNN producer Gaven Morris in Berlin.
Gaven, what's the very latest?

GAVEN MORRIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, we can now confirm that there is definitely a major incident going on here at the embassy. We've arrived at the scene now to tell you there are probably 40 or more emergency vehicles here, police vehicles, fire engines, ambulances. Now what this is about is apparent a group calling itself the Democratic Iraqi Opposition for Germany has got inside the embassy. We're not sure how many people are inside, but they are inside. They are saying they are launching a peaceful and temporary protest. In a statement, they have said that the Iraqi people and the legitimate leadership declare the liberation of Iraqi soil begins today.

So what they're saying is that they have taken this embassy as a first step to some border campaign that they -- some aspirational campaign that they would like to see to topple Saddam Hussein. They say he's not the legitimate leader, and they're demanding the end of his rule.

So that's where we're at the moment. The police are expected at any time to come out and give us a much more detailed statement. They have obviously scrambled on this one as well. There was no tip off this was going to happen, no warning, and so at the moment, they are here in force. If anything, that is a indication they are treating this as a major incident -- Paula.

ZAHN: So what can you say about some of the early German news agency report that suggest that there might have been some hostages taken here?

MORRIS: Let me tell you two things, though. I am wary of them, because they are, in concerns, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) at the moment. But there is firstly a report that says some hostages -- doesn't necessarily how many. Some hostages have been taken. There also another report, again unconfirmed, that people may have been injured during this occupation, and there may be some injuries or casualty of some sorts inside the embassy at the moment. These are obviously very important things that we're working hard on to try to get an answer on, and we're hoping a statement shortly will give us more information on.-- Paula.

ZAHN: And, Gaven, while you've been there, we've been trying figuring out if this group has and sort of loose affiliation with the Iraqi National Congress, which is an umbrella organization of course that breaks together these opposition groups. No one can establish that right now, but I guess the stunning thing about this group is very little known about it, right, Gavin?

MORRIS: Very little here locally in Berlin. Most people here say they haven't really heard of them before. They certainly haven't been prominent in any sort of protests before, have certainly never tried anything like this.

So that's the big mystery at the moment. I mean, what we know is that they're inside of embassy, and they're causing some sort of disturbance. What we don't know is really what's motivated them to choose today, and what's behind it all when it gets down to it -- Paula.

ZAHN: Some very good questions. But I know you'll probably be able to answer a little bit later today, as authorities talk to you on the record.

Gaven Morris, thanks for that live update.

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