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CNN BREAKING NEWS

United Nations Diplomat Killed in Baghdad Bombing

Aired August 19, 2003 - 15:05   ET

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

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: We want to turn our attention now to the day's other tragic story, a truck bombing in Baghdad at the headquarters of the United Nations killing more than a dozen people, including the United Nations top diplomatic, President Bush earlier today saying the civilized world will not give in to killers, some, though, questioning whether this might be another example of how, in their view, the Bush administration has underestimated the security challenge in postwar Iraq.
We being our reporting this hour with our Baghdad bureau chief, Jane Arraf, still standing by at the grim scene of today's bombing -- Jane.

JANE ARRAF, CNN BAGHDAD BUREAU CHIEF: John, they're still trying to dig the living and the dead out of the remains of what used to be U.N. headquarters.

Now, they have brought in more excavation equipment. We have seen fire trucks come in. And you can behind, it's just the outlines of that building lit by floodlights, as workers try to go through the rubble still get out some of the bodies and possibly some of the survivors.

Now, as you mentioned earlier, one of the victims was the U.N. special envoy for Iraq. And we spoke earlier to his spokesman, Salim Lone, who talked about the hours he spent with him today, which turned out to be just shortly before he died.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SALIM LONE, U.N. SPOKESMAN: I was with him about an hour, two hours before he died. And we spent a wonderful two hours together. And I'm just devastated to hear this, that he has died. I grieve for him. I grieve for his family.

I grieve for all his friends, but I grieve most of all for the people of Iraq, because he was the man who could really have helped bring about an end to occupation, an end to the trauma the people of Iraq have suffered for so long, to lead the reconstruction effort.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ARRAF: John, that was the spokesman for Sergio Vieira de Mello, talking about his mission here and what kind of person he was.

And he was a man with a very difficult job. He had been sent all over the world by the U.N. secretary-general to troubleshoot. He was sent here in very different circumstances, the U.N. trying to carve out a role for itself. I traveled with him a bit when he went through the country meeting Iraqis, meeting political figures.

And one of the striking things about him was that he made a point of stopping to talk to everyone, including people in the street who would come up to him just to complain. And he had time for everyone, an unlikely target. Certainly, this was a softer target than a U.S. military one. And it has shocked Iraqis to no end. Many of them cannot understand what the point of this might be, except to point out that security here is obviously very, very precarious -- John.

KING: Jane Arraf reporting to us live from U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, where the rescue-and-recovery efforts continue -- thank you, Jane.

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