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Suicide Bomber in Afula Was Male

Aired May 19, 2003 - 11:36   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Let's get the latest now out of northern Israel. Afula, the city with the latest suicide bombing attack. Jerrold Kessel standing by in Jerusalem with the latest on that. Jerrold, hello.
JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Daryn, hello again. And I think we can clarify some things, some degree about the casualties and the bomber, the identity of the bomber. The casualties -- speaking -- just spoken minutes ago to members of the relief services, and they are absolutely adamant there -- three people killed by the bomber. The Israeli police are still saying two people killed by the bomber, but it is either two or three dead, and of the 30 people wounded, several are reported in critical condition, and that may account for the degree of discrepancy of the number of fatalities, also number in serious condition. The wounded have all been taken away from the scene.

Now, as to the identity, there were the earlier reports saying that it was a female, a woman suicide bomber, but now appears that the woman who is dead, it seems, was in fact the security guard on the gate of that -- the entrance of that shopping mall where the bomber struck, and the bomber was a man, and that while the argument was taking place, that seemed to be the confusion and the feeling that might have been the woman, dead woman was the bomber, whereas, in fact, she is the security guard.

That's the latest we have heard from the relief services on the scene there at that shopping mall in the town of Afula just north of Israel's border with the West Bank of this latest harrowing incident in an Israeli city, the fifth in a series, a real string of suicide bombings. The previous four, both in the West Bank. Here in Jerusalem yesterday aboard a bus where seven people were killed on their way to work early morning yesterday. Down in Gaza this morning where a bomber aboard a -- on his bicycle wounded three Israeli soldiers, and now this latest incident up in northern Israel, in Galilee, a real concerted campaign, it seems, by Hamas, who have claimed responsibility for previous attacks. They vowed to wreck this attempt to get a new peace process going. Certainly going about it the right way from their point of view. A real concerted campaign under way here.

KAGAN: All right, Jerrold Kessel, with the latest in Jerusalem. Jerrold, thank you -- Leon.

HARRIS: All right. Want to get some more information from a bit closer to the scene. We're joined now on the telephone by Dr. Orna Blondheim, who is director general of the hospital -- the Ha'amek hospital there in Afula. And Doctor, can you give us any confirmation or confirmed numbers on how many have been injured -- actually have gone to the hospital now as injured or as dead now?

ORNA BLONDHEIM, HOSPITAL DIRECTOR: Casualties are still being evacuated to the hospital. Until this minute, we've received 47 patients, 13 of them are severely wounded. They're being taken care of either in the emergency room or in the operating room. Two patients are going to be transferred to Ambaum (ph) Medical Center. One with a head injury and one with a severe burn that we prefer to send them there.

HARRIS: And you cannot say, at this particular point, doctor, how many have died?

BLONDHEIM: No. I have no information, because patients -- people that died out of the hospital are not brought to the hospital.

HARRIS: All right. So then you can tell us, then, that none have died while in the hospital?

BLONDHEIM: Nobody died in the hospital so far. I hope nobody will die.

HARRIS: All right. At this point, though, you are dealing with some 47 patients that have come in. How soon after the bombing did the patients get into the hospital? How soon were they brought there?

BLONDHEIM: Well, actually, it's interesting, because we got our first phone call telling us about an explosion came, actually, from one of our employees in town who heard the explosion. Patients started arriving within minutes after the explosion because it's so nearby, and we are the only hospital in the area, so we received all the 47 patients so far.

HARRIS: How nearby is it? You say the building is near -- your hospital is nearby this shopping center. How close is it?

BLONDHEIM: It's a few minutes drive by car.

HARRIS: And at this point you don't expect any more to be brought in to the hospital?

BLONDHEIM: No -- we actually expect that, from experiences, unfortunately, we've received many patients in the past from many terror attacks in our area, and patients that were mildly hurt and patients with anxiety attacks still continue coming a few hours after the terror attacks. So we do expect some more patients to come.

HARRIS: Well, Doctor, with this increased number of bombing attacks over the weekend, and now this one this evening there, are you concerned there for your safety and then the safety of those in the hospital?

BLONDHEIM: Well, this is definitely a surge after having a few weeks of more quiet time. This is actually a surge of terror attacks, and we're all very concerned. Unfortunately for the last two years, we've developed a new routine of being ready, constantly ready, for such events, and it helps when such an event occurs, that we are ready for it.

HARRIS: Dr. Orna Blondheim, we thank you very much for the information there.

BLONDHEIM: Let's hope -- let's hope for better days.

HARRIS: Certainly. Certainly shall.

BLONDHEIM: All right. Bye.


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