CNN BREAKING NEWS
Interview With Michel Cousineau
Aired September 25, 2002 - 07:51 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We've got some breaking news out of the Ivory Coast. French troops have arrived at that boarding school in the Ivory Coast, where 200 schoolchildren and staff, most of them Americans, have been caught in the crossfire of a military coup.
Michel Cousineau, the chief security officer of the school, founded by the Free Will Baptist Foreign Missions, is on the phone.
Good morning, sir. Can you confirm for us this morning that French troops are now in control of the school?
MICHEL COUSINEAU, SCHOOL CHIEF SECURITY OFFICER: I can confirm to you, first of all, that the school is owned and operated by Conservative Baptist International. The French troops have arrived. They have secured our location. They are not in control of the school, but they have secured our premises.
ZAHN: And what exactly does that mean from your standpoint, when you have hundreds of kids inside?
COUSINEAU: That means that we're very, very happy that they have secured our location on the inside of the perimeter. And so, we feel very secure right now.
ZAHN: Describe to us what your school has been up against over the last 48 hours or so?
COUSINEAU: Well, it's actually been -- for the last week, we have been confined to this campus. We have not been able to leave. We have come under crossfire on two occasions. Troops on both sides running up and down in front of our campus. It has been, you know, quite a frightening time, but no one has been injured. The morale of the students is pretty good. And we're very happy right now with what's happening.
ZAHN: Describe, though, how the kids are bearing with the intensity of what they have witnessed, particularly over the last couple of days?
COUSINEAU: Well, they are doing quite well. Whenever they have the occasion to get out of their dorms, we have a big sports complex that is very secure, and so we have allowed them to go in there to expend their energy. And you know, they have been out of classes, so you know, schoolchildren, sometimes they like to be out of classes.
So, they're doing quite well. You know, the future -- they don't know what the future will be holding, and neither do we at this point. ZAHN: Well, we appreciate your bringing us up-to-date on what is going on there at this hour.
Just to provide some context, I think we need to share with you what Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld had to say about this situation from Warsaw a little bit earlier this morning. He described it as not a serious problem, and he does not think that U.S. citizens in the West African country are being immediately threatened by an ongoing military revolt.
And he went on to say at the moment -- quote: "Things are at an acceptable level. Real estate has changed hands, but at the moment, we see no see threat to Americans."
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