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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Two Suicide Bombings Strike Israel, West Bank

Aired August 12, 2003 - 06:02   ET

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

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: We want to get more on that breaking news out of the Middle East now. Two suicide bombings within an hour of each other threaten to shatter the fragile road map to peace.
The first blast happened about four hours ago at a grocery market inside a shopping mall in the central Israeli town of Rosh Ha'ayin. One Israeli was killed in the attack. At least 10 others hurt. The bomber also killed.

And a short time later, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a bus stop along a major highway near the West Bank Jewish settlement of Ariel. Authorities say one Israeli was killed at that site. At least four others were hurt.

No one has claimed responsibility for these attacks. Of course, we have correspondents busy gathering information for you.

Sheila MacVicar has managed to make it to Ariel, where that suicide bomber struck a bus stop -- to the West Bank now.

Sheila -- bring us up-to-date.

SHEILA MACVICAR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Carol, I'm standing alongside the major east-west route that cuts through the West Bank. You may be able to see behind me that bus stop right over there. That was where the suicide bomber walked up to about three hours ago, detonated his device, killing himself and one other person. That person is an Israeli man, we are told.

There were four other people standing at the bus stop. Two of those people have been critically wounded, and are now in Israel for hospital treatment.

Now, that was the second blast of the day. The first came about 12 miles to the west in the Israeli city of Rosh Ha'ayin. A suicide bomber walked into a small grocery store in a shopping mall, detonated his device. He has killed one other person, we are told. There are about 10 others there who were wounded. Some of them have been seriously hurt.

Now, these are the first suicide blasts since the Palestinian militant factions unilaterally declared a cease-fire, or as it's called here a Hudnah (ph), about six weeks ago.

On the phone to a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, one of my colleagues this morning, the Hamas spokesman saying that they reaffirm their commitment to the cease-fire, would not say if there was any responsibility, if they bore any responsibility for it -- we have still not had a formal claim of responsibility -- but saying if indeed it had been a Hamas militant or a militant cell that carried out these blasts, then it was in revenge for Israeli actions.

We are on the road map -- that U.S. administration's road map to peace. One of the things that is supposed to happen in this phase of the road map, something the Israeli government has been reminding the Palestinians and pushing the Americans to enforce, is that the Palestinian Authority is supposed to crack down against what's called "terrorist infrastructure," something that so far they have been somewhat reluctant to do.

We expect, Carol -- we've already heard from the prime minister, Ariel Sharon, that a planned Palestinian prisoner release, which was expected today, will not now go ahead. And we are told that Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas -- Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas, who is out of the country, may be making plans to return home here very soon -- Carol.

COSTELLO: And, of course, also later today, William Burns, the top U.S. envoy, is supposed to meet with the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, and if that takes place, it should be an interesting meeting.

Sheila MacVicar live from Ariel this morning.

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