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Car Bomb Explosion in Iraq

Aired September 2, 2003 - 02:24   ET


RYM BRAHIMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: ... from the building of the police academy. We understand that several people were injured in that blast.
Iraqi police are at the scene. The area has been cordoned off. There's also some fire engines at the scene, although the fire seems to have been -- or the smoke that was there seems to have died down in the past half-hour or so -- Juanita.

JUANITA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Rym, so they're saying that this -- the -- I guess the cause of the explosion was a car bomb. Do they know -- have any of the details on that?

BRAHIMI: No, details are still very, very sketchy, Juanita. We're just really getting them and telling you as we get them. All we know is that there are a lot of U.S. soldiers, a lot of security at the scene now that are looking into what exactly happened.

We understand, again, that there have been several wounded people. We're not sure how many. We don't know what type of other casualties, if any, for the time being, but you could see the black smoke coming out of the area where that car bomb apparently exploded.

Again, a car bomb in a car parked belonging to the police academy. It's not the first time that the police academy is targeted, actually. It was targeted some time in July. There was another event -- another incident there in which Iraqi policemen just graduating were shot at.

So, of course, it's very early stages right now. People are just finding their whereabouts, trying to find out what exactly happened at that moment.

And this comes, Juanita, right after the deaths yesterday of two U.S. soldiers south of Baghdad who were using -- they were actually two U.S. military police who were using one of the main supply highways south of the Iraqi capital, and they died when their Humvee hit an improvised explosive device -- Juanita.

PHILLIPS: Now, Rym, this explosion that took place at the parking lot that was owned by the policy, any -- because what -- we're getting reports that the explosion took place at around 11:00 in the morning local time.

Would it have been very crowded at that time? Was this a parking lot that was isolated? What do we know about the location? BRAHIMI: It seems to have been relatively distant from the building and quite -- a relatively isolated place.

What is interesting is that the explosion was felt into various areas. We felt it here in our office very sightly. We heard something definitely. So it did resonate in other neighborhoods around. It must have been quite a powerful explosion.

As for how many people it would have been affected at that time of the day, that's not clear. Maybe that's what people are now trying to find out. We haven't seen or haven't heard of many ambulances at the scene so far. They may have come and gone already.

What we have seen, though, are fire engines still at the scene for the time being, although the smoke coming out of the area where the parking lot is has died down -- Juanita.

PHILLIPS: And, Rym, car bombs apparently seem to be the M.O. for these attacks, and, as you were reporting, the attacks in Najaf and, of course, the car bomb explosions that caused quite the tragedy at the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, what -- how is that -- how is this making things difficult for coalition forces in terms of trying to maintain security?

BRAHIMI: Well, I think it's going to be really one of the main challenges now, and it is very difficult, in particular, in some areas, to really look at every single car and see if there is a bomb in it or not. I know that in...

BLITZER: ... gains strength as it spins toward the Caribbean...

BRAHIMI: ... Juanita, is they don't allow vandal (ph) cars to park on busy streets or commercial streets. They encourage them and push them away and make them move on.

I also understand that in Najaf where, as you know, it's the third day of mourning -- the third and last day of mourning for the death of Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al Hakim, who was killed in the terrible bomb blast in Najaf on Friday -- well, they found yesterday a car filled with explosives, according to Iraqi police. We don't know exactly what the details are about what explosives, but, definitely, that's a concern.

Security is very, very tight in many areas. In particular today, of course, in the holy city of Najaf, there are helicopters also bringing in supplies in case something like that happens again -- Juanita.

PHILLIPS: All right. Rym, thank you very much for that.

CNN's Rym Brahimi reporting to us there from Baghdad where an explosion has ripped through the parking lot -- parts of the parking lot that was owned by the police academy in Western Baghdad, according to Rym. She was saying that the explosion was quite forceful in the sense that it was -- it could have been heard where the CNN bureau is located in Baghdad. Again, no word yet on any casualties. There is smoke billowing from the location, but from what they're seeing there, from what CNN -- from what Rym was reporting, is that the parking lot seemed to be relatively isolated, even though the explosion reportedly took place at around 11:00 local time.

Again, we don't have any word yet on any casualties, but witnesses at the scene say that casualties are reported. Of course, we'll continue to keep you posted on the situation there and bring you more as information becomes available. But, for now, though, that is breaking news here at CNN.

We'll bring you more, again, as information becomes available. For now, though, you're watching CNN.



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