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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Explosion in Port City Haifa

Aired March 5, 2003 - 07:33   ET

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

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Now we switch to Jerusalem, where our bureau chief Mike Hanna is on duty to help us better understand early reports out of Haifa -- can we now confirm there has been some kind of a bombing in a bus in Haifa?
MIKE HANNA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, police at the moment are using the phrase explosion. They confirm that there has been an explosion on a bus in Haifa in the Carmel region or just above the port city. According to the police, there was some kind of explosion. Several reports are indicating that there are a number of injuries in this explosion. What caused the explosion, that's not clear at this stage. This happened within the last two to three minutes.

Once again, we're waiting for further information, but what police do confirm at this stage is that there has been an explosion aboard a bus in the Israeli port city of Haifa in the Carmel residential region just above that city.

ZAHN: How heavily traveled of a corridor is this, Mike?

HANNA: Well, once again, that road that it's on, we're not exactly sure specifically what road it is. We do know that it is in Carmel. Now, Carmel is a residential region above that port city of Haifa. Obviously, most roads around there are fairly busy. Once again, at this particular time it is shortly after half past two local time. We're wanting to, waiting to see exactly what area this attack was at the moment we have an area which is the residential area of Carmel.

The traffic in and around Haifa is busy at the best of times. Where specifically this was, whether it was in a shopping area in that residential area or not, we are not sure about at the moment. We are waiting for all these details. We'll give them to you as they come in.

This, if, indeed, it is a terror attack, which we have not confirmed at this stage, would be the first such attack inside Israel in two months. The last attack was in Tel Aviv on the fifth of January. Nearly 20 people killed in that attack. But in the intervening period there have been no such attacks within Israel itself. Within this intervening period, as well, a new government has come to power in Israel, headed by Ariel Sharon, a strong right-wing government, as that it has put.

Also within this period there have been a number of Israeli operations, particularly in the Gaza Strip, but no attacks, terror attacks within Israel. As I say, we are still waiting to establish whether this is, in fact, the case, police telling us at this particular moment that there has been an explosion aboard the bus. The nature of the explosion still not clear.

ZAHN: You say it's been a relatively quiet period of time. But I think just to put things into perspective, we need to remind folks that there were a situation where three Palestinians were killed in separate attacks in the West Bank and Gaza and yesterday the White House issued rare caution to Israelis, saying that they really did need to be very concerned about the treatment of Palestinian civilians.

As soon as we have more information on this news out of Haifa, we will get it to you.

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