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11 Confirmed Dead in Terror Attack

Aired November 28, 2002 - 07:33   ET


BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Back to the news of the day again, this story originating from two different locations essentially right now. The central point right now is Mombasa, Kenya, southeastern coast. Here are the fact as we understand them.
Catherine Bond is on the scene. She's reporting 25 minutes ago that there were at least three suicide bombers, two of whom who were inside some sort of Land Rover or Range Rover that drove directly into the site of the tourist hotel in which a number of Israeli tourists were checking into the hotel at the time.

Our understanding, at least 11 dead, three of whom are the bombers, and three others who are Israelis. And of the three Israelis, two are said to be children.

The remaining casualties on the fatality list appear to be now Kenyan nationals who were simply workers at the hotel who would come out to greet these tourists upon their arrival, do a traditional African dance and welcome them to this resort place about 15 miles north of Mombasa.

Eighty injured at least, we are told, right now, and oftentimes in stories such as these those numbers change and change rapidly throughout the story as it continues to develop.

We're watching in Mombasa, we're watching it back in Tel Aviv, as well. But this half hour now we want to get back to Catherine Bond by way of video phone to find out what she has found out there on the ground -- Catherine, hello again.

What do you have?

CATHERINE BOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We understand that at about 8:30 local time, three men in a green Hajera (ph) drew up to the gates of the hotel here and were refused entry by hotel security. They then revised and broke through the gate, came down to the reception area behind me. One of them got out, went into the hotel lobby, blew himself up. The other two blew themselves up inside the vehicle.

That caused a crater in the ground that blew a path, that threw twisted metals right across this area behind me. It destroyed a couple of vehicles parked in the car park and it killed 10 Kenyans and three Israelis who were in the vicinity of the lobby at the time, 10 hotel staff or entertainers who'd come to the hotel to entertain guests and, we're told, two Israeli children and one Israeli adult.

About 32 Kenyans are known to be badly injured and in hospitals in Mombasa and about 13 to 14 Israelis also badly injured and admitted to hospitals in Mombasa.

HEMMER: Catherine, we have some videotape here from some of the people at that hotel. We want to get to that in a moment. But if you could, by way of video phone, oftentimes this picture is not as clear as we'd like, but over your right hand shoulder, can you take us through what you're standing in front of and also the building well behind you, it looks like about a hundred yards or more?

BOND: Yes, just behind me is the hotel blobby area, down a little bit, but more or less completely destroyed. There is the outer walls that are standing. Above that is the hotel itself. It seems that its thatched roof caught fire and the fire ripped across the hotel, destroying all the roof in.

These vehicles here are some 20 yards away from where the car exploded and they've been completely destroyed. They're still smoldering. There's still a certain amount of fire and smoke coming out of the hotel itself.

Just down there you'll see some white plastic tubing or (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and underneath that are the bodies of the victims, the people who were killed. And we can see that there is, one of them is a Kenyan woman and we don't know if all the bodies are there, but we've been told that 13 people died here at this hotel this morning.

HEMMER: All right, Catherine, listen, hang with us one second here. This videotape coming in to us right now, pictures of the injured at the hotel. We don't have a whole lot of information on it, but we do want to apologize and warn our viewers in advance, though, if this videotape that we have not viewed just yet, it could turn graphic at any moment. In the meantime, though, here is some of the reaction that we picked up from those staying at the hotel at the time of the attacks.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We only managed to get into the room and there was a big bomb and all the glasses went, the glasses of the room spread all over and we were lucky because we were in the corner of the room, because we only got into the room. We didn't get inside yet. So we didn't get hurt. But some of the people got hurt from the glasses that splashed over them. So they got hurt from the glasses.


HEMMER: Again, just some reaction we're getting in.

Quickly back to Catherine Bond again. Two questions, Catherine.

Number one, there's already been speculation out there that this is the work and the fingerprint of al Qaeda. What are you hearing there on the scene, number one? And number two, give us the numbers again as you have them in terms of the fatalities and the injured according to officials the in Mombasa.

BOND: Nineteen people died, 10 Kenyans, two Israelis, including two Israeli children. Twenty-three Kenyans have been admitted to hospital and about 13 to 14 Israelis with bad injuries.

We know that there are certain members of the diplomatic corps down here now, the American embassy, the Israeli embassy have sent security people down here to take a look at what's happened. Clearly, it was an Israeli target, an Israeli-owned hotel, and it was a hundred percent occupied by Israeli tourists. But it killed Kenyans, as well, so you could (AUDIO GAP)...

HEMMER: All right, we...

BOND: ... well, you can speculate upon who, on who it is, but that's not something that we should be doing at the moment.

HEMMER: Fair, and actually...

BOND: But I have seen an al Qaeda attack before in August 1998. The U.S. Embassy was attacked in Nairobi and more than 300 Kenyans and 12 Americans were killed.

HEMMER: Catherine, thank you.

Catherine Bond again by way of video phone.

Some of the allegations already announced by the Israeli officials that we've heard in Tel Aviv already talking. They say there's a direct link to al Qaeda. We do want to emphasize right now no claim of responsibility for what we're getting out of Mombasa.

More when we get it, though.


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