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Opposition Group Demands End to Hussein's Rule

Aired August 20, 2002 - 11:38   ET

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


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: We want to get back now to our live coverage of that unfolding hostage situation there at the consulate, at the Iraqi consulate there. We are checking in right now with our Berlin bureau chief Jennifer Hallis -- excuse me, Stephanie Hallis, who just got to the scene moments ago.
Stephanie, I apologize there for the name problem. Can you give us an idea right now of what's going on?

STEPHANIE HALLIS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Leon, yes.

We arrived here actually almost three hours ago. At around 14:26 local time -- that is around three hours ago -- some people that police describe as hostage takers entered the Iraqi consulate here. This is a leafy suburb of Berlin. They then took hostages, police say. Initially there were reports of two injured. Now police say there is only one injured, who could possibly be injured by tear gas. Police say they have not used tear gas so far.

Also, some inhabitants of this area, the same block that the consulate is at, reported that they heard at least seven shots being fired around that time.

Now, in a statement faxed to various news agencies, a group called the Democratic opposition -- the Democratic Iraqi Opposition of Germany said that they wanted the government to change in Iraq, and this is the action they were taking to take on this task. They said they wanted to take this on in a peaceful and temporary manner -- Leon.

HARRIS: Well, Stephanie, have you been able to learn more about what this group is all about, and who this group is and who they represent? I understand there was a report moments ago coming from one of the wire services that said one of the main opposition groups there in Germany said they pretty much had no connection at all with this group.

HALLIS: Yes, that's right. The Democratic Iraqi Opposition of Germany is certainly not a group of that lot of people are familiar with. Police say they have no knowledge of them and Iraqi National congress out of London -- this is a basically an organization representing at least six Iraqi opposition groups -- said in a statement that this group was obscure and was in no way representing Iraqi opposition officials -- Leon.

HARRIS: All right now, as I'm looking behind over your shoulder, if you turn around, you see it looks like an armored personnel carrier that has just entered the street there. What do you know about what is going on behind you right now?

HALLIS: Well, there is a large police presence here. There is at least a hundred Berlin police. And earlier, we saw German special police, the so-called SEK -- this is the special command -- actually put on masks, fairly heavy weaponry and approached the house. This seems like an APC, an armored personnel carrier, that is now moving down the road where toward the consulate.

Still, we are about 200 meters away from the consulate. Initially we were very close to it, and then police said they wanted to clear the area because it was possibly too dangerous for everyone there. So they have moved us further up. Certainly a large police force here -- Leon.

HARRIS: Let me ask you this, are the police there worried about any other activities happening at any other installations there, perhaps related to Iraq, the embassy...

HALLIS: I have lost IFB.

HARRIS: Excuse me folks, IFB in our business, stands for whatever is going on in my hear. My apologies there, Stephanie Hallis, Berlin bureau chief, just losing her connection to us here to Atlanta.

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