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Reuters: "Huge" Blast Outside Cafe in Jerusalem

Aired September 9, 2003 - 16:29   ET


JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news out of Israel. A quick update. A large explosition rocking a part of West Jerusalem, Jewish West Jerusalem, the Bacca neighborbood, we are told at the Hillel Cafe. The Associated Press is reporting at least two people are dead, multiple injuries. Israeli Public radio is saying dozens are wounded. Again, this is the second major bombing in Israel today. Earlier today, an explosion in Tel Aviv left at least seven dead. Now, we're reporting at least two dead.
As we get more information, CNN will bring it to you in the minutes and the hours to come.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS.

Before we move on, I want to talk to my colleague, Jerrold Kessel, who joins us from Jerusalem by telephone.

Jerrold, what are you learning right now?

JERROLD KESSEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we do know that there has been another major explosion. It, in fact, is not very far from where I am speaking to you. I live in the area. It's an area of west Jerusalem.

And according to Israeli media reports in the last couple of minutes, there are a number of bodies on the ground. It does seem to be another terror incident. This has not yet been confirmed, but it has all the hallmarks of that. This follows the earlier attack outside Tel Aviv, outside an army base on one of the main roads there, where seven people were killed by a suicide bomber, no indication of exactly what happened in this cafe area, busy, humming, late-night area of cafes and nightspots and one of the -- out the suburbs of Jerusalem, just not far from the center, but about four or five miles out of the center in an area known as Amik Rifaim (ph), which is very popular area with young and not so young Israelis at cafes.

And, apparently, the explosion took place right near a cafe, the Hillel cafe in this busy night district of Jerusalem.

WOODRUFF: Jerrold, as I think we have talked so much before, in terms of security, people living in these neighborhoods know there is the possibility of a terrorist act. What sort of steps are they taking to safeguard themselves?

KESSEL: Well, this particular cafe, as with most of the restaurants and cafes and shopping malls and banks and public places have armed guards on the -- on the door. And security guards are there checking people as they go in.

But from what we understand from the explosion, it took place outside the cafe. Now, if it is as I'm hearing from colleagues who are reporting to me from the scene, that in fact this particular cafe has a number of tables, probably about half -- about a dozen or more outside on the sidewalk outside the cafe. And that could be the reason why virtually impossible to stop such a bomber, if it was indeed -- and it has all the hallmarks of being another suicide attack in going up to the area, because it is an open area.

It's not going into the cafe. Mainly, young people were -- would have been -- it's now 11:30 in the evening, but a balmy late summer evening here in Jerusalem. And the latest reports we've got is that there are bodies on the scene. And the first word from the medical relief services that I'm getting in here is that there are at least 40 people who are injured, as ambulances have rushed to the scene.

It literally happened maybe 10 minutes ago at the utmost. And I heard the loud explosions. And then, soon afterwards, the ambulances were -- the sirens and the wails of the ambulances heading to the spot. Unlike what happened this afternoon, in the earlier attack, it was very, very speedily completed, in the sense that there was right near a major hospital. And the people who were hurt there were quickly ferried away. Within 15 minutes, all the wounded had been taken care of.

I think this was probably a more devastating attack, even, this evening than the one that occurred this afternoon outside Tel Aviv.

WOODRUFF: Jerrold, describe the neighborhood again for us. The wires are describing it as Jewish west Jerusalem. How would you describe it?

KESSEL: Yes. It is in west Jerusalem, Israeli Jerusalem.

And it's you could say a middle-class, slightly trendy, with a lot of cafes, open-air. As I say, this particular cafe has a sidewalk with tables on the sidewalk. There are many cafes, little boutiques, and small stores. It's a residential area. But the particular road is quite a busy late-night road. And Jerusalem is a place where people are out at cafes, not much reveling. It's not kind of reveling and nightspots in that -- in that sense.

But there are cafes and late-night restaurants where people will go to, and a very popular area which attracts mainly young people at this time of night, I would say, from many parts of the city coming there.

And just getting word in that -- that many -- that the police chief, the Jerusalem police chief, says many wounded. And the injured -- the evacuation of the injured is still in progress as we talk now.

WOODRUFF: Jerrold Kessel.

And as we listen to you, Jerrold, it makes us wonder where in Israel is it safe? Jerrold Kessel describing a large number of casualties at a bombing outside a cafe, the Hillel cafe in west Jerusalem.

Of course, as we get more information here at CNN, we'll pass it along to you as soon as we have it.


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