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Tuareg Separatist Group Declares Northern Mali Independent; Syrian Government Steps Up Military Action Ahead of Tuesday Cease-Fire Deadline

Aired April 6, 2012 - 16:00   ET


RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everybody, I'm Ralitsa Vassileva. Here are the headlines we are watching for you this hour. A violent day in Syria despite the government's promise to withdraw troops from major cities by Tuesday, an opposition group reports at least 23 people killed across the country. This amateur video posted on YouTube appears to show shelling that activists say is happening in Homs.

At least six people have been taken to the hospital after U.S. Navy jet crashed into an apartment complex in the U.S. state of Virginia. The Navy says the two person crew ejected before the F-18 hit the ground. None of the injuries are said to be life threatening.

In Mali, a separatist faction has declared independence. (inaudible) rebels have laid claim to a northern region they call Azawat (ph). The leader of last month's military coup says he opposes the declaration.

More than 11,000 empty red chairs filling the main avenue of Sarajevo. It is in remembrance of the city's civilians who were killed in the Bosnia war marking the 20th anniversary of the start of this conflict.

You're watching CNN, the world's news leader. Connect the world with Monita Rajpal is next.

MONITA RAJPAL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tonight on Connect the World: fleeing the violence, Turkey says a record number of Syrian refugees are flooding across its border and urges the UN to witness the crisis firsthand.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN London, this is Connect the World.

RAJPAL: Fearing for their lives, they are simply too terrified to stay at home. Tonight, fears of violence in Syria is escalating as a cease-fire deadline approaches.

Also ahead, no longer here, but not forgotten, rows of empty chairs honor the thousands of victims killed in the Bosnia conflict 20 years ago.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And just as I walk in, our robot went over the boiler. And we had the picture of that boiler hanging on the wall. And we went, it's Titanic.


REPOTER: The heart stopping moment a marine explorer realized he'd made the discovery of a lifetime.

First, opposition activists say the Syrian regime is determined to bomb them into submission before a cease-fire deal is supposed to take effect.

Activists say at least 23 people were killed across the country today, including 13 in the flashpoint of Homs. Syria has agreed to withdraw all troops and heavy weapons from population centers by Tuesday, but Activists say the regime is actually ramping up attacks as the deadline approaches.

Turkey says a record number of Syrians are streaming across the border to escape the violence, many bringing chilling accounts of atrocities back home. The Turkish government wants the United Nations to take a much more active role in the crisis, saying it's become an international problem.

We want to get more now from CNN's Ivan Watson in Istanbul -- Ivan.

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Monita, it's amazing. On Thursday, the United Nations special envoy said that the Syrian government had told him that it was beginning to withdraw forces from three key Syria citizens -- cities rather. 24 hours later, the Turkish government counts a record number of Syrian refugees fleeing the ongoing military offensives against their cities and towns. More than 2,700 Syrians, many of them fleeing by night, some on foot, they are traveling, in some cases, down smuggler's paths to the Turkish border, abandoning their homes. Some of these trails have been mined recently by the Syrian army. They are clearly terrified for their lives as one woman said after she boarded a Turkish bus at the Turkish border, headed for a refugee camp here in Turkey.

Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was a massacre in (inaudible). They butchered the people. They shelled. They fired rockets. They displaced us. Bashar is an oppressor, and a dog. May god have no mercy on him. He displaced everyone. We are waiting for the national council, Turkey and Erdogan solve all these problems. And arm this Free Syrian Army.

May god protect the Free Syrian Army.


WATSON: Now Monita, that woman mentioned one particular town, Tafta Naz (ph) in Northern Syria. I traveled through that town a month ago. It was an opposition bastion enclave, if you will, with rebel checkpoints in it. It has been targeted by the Syrian military. For the last week, artillery and helicopters firing on it.

I have to warn viewers the next images are graphic. They show a mass grave dug in that town on Thursday after the Syrian military suspended operations in that town and after volunteers went out and began pulling dozens of bodies out from underneath the rubble of that town. Syrian opposition activists telling us they still haven't reached all the bodies, that the air smells like rotten corpses in that town of Tafta Naz (ph).

Images like this, reasons why record numbers of Syrians are fleeing their own country here to Turkey -- Monita.

RAJPAL: And in -- meanwhile in Syria as well, Tuesday is meant to be -- is supposed to be a pivotal day. What is the likelihood that the requirements of the ceasefire will actually be met?

WATSON: Well, that's a big question here. And critics of the Syrian regime -- and there are no shortage of them -- are accusing the government of trying to use these final days before a Tuesday deadline with the United Nations to withdraw Syrian forces from cities and towns, they're accusing the Syrian government of trying to kill as many opponents as possible before that deadline.

The Turkish government, the Turkey's foreign minister, called the United Nations secretary-general early this morning to complain about the refugee surge and also about reports of ongoing military operations across the border. Military operations backed by helicopters.

Take a listen to what the Turkish foreign minister had to say later today.


AHMET DAVUTAGLU, TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): It became clear, especially with these arriving refugees, that parallel to the diplomatic activities, operations in Syria have increased, including areas close to our border. Last night upon these developments, I had a talk with Mr. Ban Ki Moon at 2:00 am. I expressed that we expect necessary initiatives to be taken and that these clashes should be stopped immediately.

He said that they would take the necessary initiatives on this matter.

It is important for the international community to take a very clear stance with regard to the refugee flow now. I also made a demand to him for the U.N. to take a much more active role in this matter.


WATSON: Turkey calling for international assistance with the refugee problem. Meanwhile, Monita, after an uprising of more than a year, this is no longer a one-sided conflict. Syria state media reports funerals on Thursday for at least 11 Syrian soldiers and security forces killed in this ongoing crisis -- Monita.

RAJPAL: Ivan, thank you. Ivan Watson there in Istanbul.

Well, we got more reaction from the Turkish government just a short time ago. Speaking with the foreign ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal, I began by asking him about the scale of the refugee problem.


SELCUK UNAL, TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN: As of yesterday in just the last 24 hours yesterday almost 3,000 Syrian nationals have entered Turkey, have escaped and fled from Syria. This was the first day that such an amount has entered in a single day.

So a number of the Syrian national in Turkey are amount to almost 24,000. So it's actually one-tenth of the total amount has entered Turkey yesterday.

But at the moment, they are being provided enough and adequate (inaudible) food and beverages. Some of them are staying separately in tent camps. Some of them are in other camps. And we are trying to look after them to the best of our capacity.

RAJPAL: What kind of pressure is the current situation and the humanitarian situations, a refugee crisis right now. What kind of pressure is already -- is that being placed on the resources within the Turkish government?

UNAL: Well, at the moment (inaudible) and will continue. We'll continue to open our borders to all Syrian nationals (inaudible) who are escaping -- or escape from persecution of violence or threat of violence.

But of course, our resources are not endless.

RAJPAL: At what point do you believe will the Turkish government start to take more of an active role, potentially military role, in Syria?

UNAL: Well, I think nobody is talking for any kind of military intervention at the moment, but what we have been saying is if this matter would get out of control if there be a huge humanitarian crisis or massive influxes as we have seen last night, these could become a national security issue and in that case we are ready -- we are prepared for any kind of eventuality.


RAJPAL: The surge in violence in Syria is raising doubts about the regime's commitment to a peace plan brokered by special envoy Kofi Annan. If the government withdraws from protest cities by Tuesday as promised, the next step would be for all sides to end hostilities within 48 hours. The parties would also enter talks to find a political resolution to the crisis.

Well, many opposition activists don't like this plan because it doesn't require Bashar al Assad to step down. CNN's Ben Wedeman has a look now at concerns about what might happen if the Syria strongman is deposed. We do warn you his report has some disturbing images.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The uprising in Syria began more than year ago with peaceful protests. But today it's beginning to look more like a civil war than a revolution, one that's taking on alarming sectarian tones, pitting the Sunni Muslim majority against the Alawite minority that dominates the regime.

"After today, you despicable Alawite," warns secular regime opponent Mahmoun al Humsi (ph), "either you forsake Assad or tomorrow Syria will become your graveyard. We will make Syria the graveyard of the Alawites if you don't stop the killing."

Syria is an ethnic and sectarian patchwork. The majority are Sunni Arabs living next to Alawites, Shiites, Kurds, Druze, Ismailis and a variety of Christian sects.

The eventual fall of the regime of Bashar al Assad may not be pretty, says Rami Khouri of the American University of Beirut.

RAMI KHOURI, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY OF BEIRUT: There's a real danger of Syria's ethnic hiding, revenge, retribution after the regime changes. But people are aware of this, and they want to try to minimize it.

WEDEMAN: The Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood recently issued a statement stressing its determination to create a pluralistic, democratic state. Such reassuring words, however, may have little impact on the evolving dynamics on the ground.

This widely circulated video clip in which government forces stomp on the corpses or regime opponents hints at the hatred the conflict in Syria has engendered. As does this warning from popular hardline Sunni Sheikh Adnan el Aroor (ph) to those participating in the crackdown.

"By god almighty," he declares, "we will put them in a meat grinder and feed their flesh to the dogs."

Let loose when a decades old authoritarian regime falls, the deep passions of a complex and ancient society can take outsiders by surprise. The evidence is right next door, says Imad Salama of the Lebanese American University.

IMAD SALAMA, LEBANESE AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: There is a substantial amount of naivete, particularly in the west, about what comes after. And the evidence in Iraq the post-Saddam Hussein Iraq was a place of ethnic cleansing and violence and instability.

WEDEMAN: The Syrian uprising isn't yet an ethnic conflict. The opposition counts Alawites and other minorities within its ranks. And those supporting the regime include members of every ethnic and religious group. The longer the violence continues, however, the greater the threat that sectarianism may indeed become the meat grinder of the people of Syria.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.


RAJPAL: You're watching Connect the World live from London. Still to come, a declaration of independence decades in the making. Rebels in Africa say they have created the world's newest country, but is anyone willing to accept it?

The fiery scene of a U.S. Navy jet crash in Virginia. We'll have details on what happened.

And in 10 minutes time, who teed off well and who is putting poorly. Next as we get the latest on the Masters.


RAJPAL: You may have never heard of Azawad, but African rebels declared it the world's newest country. Tuareg separatists today claimed independence for a vast northern region of Mali after a decades long struggle for their own homeland. The rebels took advantage of political chaos last month, seizing key northern town while the government was distracted by a military coup in the capital.

The Tuaregs were helped by Islamist fighters with suspected links to al Qaeda, but those fighters say they have no interest in independence for the north. What they want is to spread Islam and Sharia law all across the country. Heavily armed Islamists are reportedly tightening their grip on Timbuktu, burning makeshift bars and requiring women to wear headscarves.

Now all of this deeply troubling for Mali's neighbors and the world at large. The African Union, the European Union and others are completely rejecting the Tuareg's declaration of independence while some states are even considering military intervention.

We want to get more now from AFP reporter Quentin LeBoucher. He just crossed from Mali into Ivory Coast. Quentin, thank you very much for being with us.

First of all, who do we know about how or who really is control now?

QUENTIN LEBOUCHER, AFP REPORTER: Well, actually we don't know who is in control. In the south, we've got the junta who is trying to control the country, but we lost half of it and is under pressure by the Economic Community of Western African States to bring back the country to the constitution. And in the north, we've got the MNLA (ph), the National Muslims of Liberation of Asawad (ph) who just declared independence and the Islamist group (inaudible) who controls some (inaudible). And as you said who wants to implement Sharia law in the country.

RAJPAL: In terms of how this new independent state and the rebels and the Tuaregs who say they have declared this independent state, how are they expecting to survive?

LEBOUCHER: Well, there is actually an embargo implemented by the Economic Community of Western African States at the moment. So they don't have many resources. But what I have seen from people fleeing (inaudible) in the north of the country who were in (inaudible) this morning. They said there is no more patrols, that people are going to be running out of food. But they also said that there are those in (inaudible) Islamic groups have been looting everything they can. And the (inaudible), shops, everything they could.

RAJPAL: We understand also that they actually humanitarian groups are saying that they're warning that Mali is on the brink of a major humanitarian disaster. What is the situation as you know it?

LEBOUCHER: Well, actually we know that already there are 200,000 refugees who left the country, some of them in Niger. But a lot of people in the north are stuck there. They can't move. There is no more petrol there. There is no way of transportation. It's very hard to find a bus or anything, so people are stuck and are trying to reach (inaudible) where it's safer for them, but most of them are not in a capacity to get out.

RAJPAL: There are some reports that indicate that the reason why this had all happened was the Tuaregs were frustrated with decades of mismanagement by various administrations and government within Mali and so this was the only way for them to create some semblance of progression and movement within their country in order for there to be some sort of development.

All this seems as though because regional countries, countries outside and surrounding Mali are rejecting this call of independence. The question is how are they going to be able to actually have some semblance of development?

LEBOUCHER: Well, they've been claiming independence from 1960s and has always said that they are able to find -- fight against al Qaeda and Islamic (inaudible). And this is why they were very frustrated by the Mali government who didn't have the resources or the will to do so. Now they claim they can, but from what we've seen in the northern Mali, we've got a few more in (inaudible) Islamic group controlling the northern part of the country. Actually the MNLA which has declared independence.

RAJPAL: All right. Quentin LeBoucher of AFP, thank you so much. We appreciate that.

Here's a look at some of the other stories that are connecting our world tonight. At least six people are hurt after a U.S. Navy jet crashed into a Virginia apartment complex. The crew of the two seater FA-18 ejected and a fire chief says that both members are being treated at a hospital. Rescue workers are searching five heavily damaged buildings. Smoke could be seen billowing from the complex near the waterfront of Virginia Beach. A witness said the plane was flying low and dumping fuel.

The president of Malawi has died. Government officials say President Bingu wa Mutharika died of heart attack Thursday and his body was flown to South Africa. The former World Bank economist first came to power in 2004. He was reelected in 2009. But in recent years his popularity plummeted as Malawi's economy faltered. Mutharika was 78-years-old.

A new report showed the dramatic slow down in hiring in the U.S. The Labor Department says 120,000 jobs were added in March, that's half the number added just a month before. One analyst described the growth as treading water. Republicans ceased the chance to blame President Barack Obama's economic policies. But he cast the report in a more positive light.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We welcome today's news that our businesses created another 121,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate ticked down. Our economy has now created more than 4 million private sector jobs over the past two years and more than 600,000 in the past three months alone. But it's clear to every American that there will still be ups and down along the way and that we got a lot more work to do.


RAJPAL: And police in Hungary say a family argument ended in a deadly sword attack. It all happened in a small town south of Budapest. Police say a 24-year-old man is suspected of killing his father, grandparents and older brother. His mother, sister, and another relative are wounded. Police say the suspect was found hiding near the house.

Plenty ahead when we come back here on Connect the World. A hunger strike by a jailed activist in Bahrain is putting pressure on motorsport authorities to cancel this month's Formula1 race in the country. We'll have much more on that in our sports update.


RAJPAL: You're watching Connect the World live from London. Welcome back. I'm Monita Rajpal.

All the talk coming into this year's Masters was about Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. And Rory is justifying his billing as one of the favorites after Friday's second round play.

We go to Don Riddell now at CNN Center for a closer look at how things stand at the year's first major -- Don.

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: It's a great day, Monita. Thanks very much.

Rory had a pretty good day, it has to be said. He shot a 69, three under par for his second round, which means he's four under par for the tournament.

Let's take a look at the leader board and show you how McIlroy's round stacks up.

As you can see, he is four under par, just one off the lead at the moment. But the guy that is setting the pace is Fred Couples. He was 26 when he won his one and only major at Augusta some 26 years ago. He's 52. Today he had in his own words and absolutely magical day. He made seven birdies at the Augusta National. He shot a superb round of 67. He is the joint leader on five under par.

He's a very popular golfer even to this day. Can he keep it going for another couple of rounds?

He's tied for the lead at the moment with Jason Dufner. The American had a 17. Remember, he could have won the PGA Championship at the end of last year. He lost in a playoff to Keegan Bradley (ph). But it looks as though he's playing very well in this major, five under after two rounds for him.

And another of the top names that we must mention on the leader board, Lee Westwood. He is won of Europe's top players. He's been the world number one recently. He's never won a major, but he's put himself into contention here. He had a great first round. Sadly for him, a 73 today. He's four under for the tournament. It would have been a lot better had he not double boogied the 18th hole. That isn't the way you would like to end your round of golf. But as Lee said, he at least is in contention. And one of the leaders, exactly where he'd like to be.

RAJPAL: Yeah, let's talk a little bit about Formula1 and Bahrain. It was canceled last year, but they are trying to race again later this month, trying being the operative word as there is trouble again flaring in the island kingdom.

RIDDELL: Well, that's absolutely right. And trouble has again flared and of course there's a lot of coverage and a lot of concern among the protesters for one of the main protesters who has been jailed and who is on hunger strike, Jahadi al Kuwaja (ph). And his health is not said to be great at this point.

And of course with the Formula1 race coming up, that really has galvanized a lot of the protesters as it had last year. Remember, this is the biggest international event that takes place in Bahrain. The Forumla1 race is seen in 187 countries around the world, some 100 million eyeballs would be on Bahrain if the race goes ahead.

Now Formula1 really would like it to go ahead. They reluctantly pulled out of it last year. But one of Formula1's ex-champions Damon Hill has recently expressed concerned, advising the FIA to tread carefully with regards to this race. You've now got a British politician, a British MP Richard Burden (ph) saying the long-term damage to the reputation of F1 could be considerable if this race goes ahead. Many (inaudible) happen on April 22.

If you ask the drivers and the teams what they think, they will all tell you on the record that they want to race, that the race should go ahead, but privately I get the sense it's a different story. This is the view of one of Formula1's top journalists. He doesn't think they should go. And he doesn't think the drivers think they should go either.


NIGEL ROEBUCK, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, MOTOR SPORT MAGAZINE: I know very well that a great many of them feel as I do. It's less easy for them to, you know, to voice their opinions publicly.

As a general rule, we normally find in normal course of events, if there's something very controversial a lot of them are very free with their opinions when they're speaking off record, but don't write it.


RIDDELL: So Monita, April 22 is the day for the fourth grand prix of the season, the Bahrain Grand Prix. We'll see if it goes ahead.

RAJPAL: All right. Don, thank you. Don Riddell there at CNN Center. Of course Don will have much more on these stories in just about an hour for now on World Sport including live reports from the Masters.

Well, still to come here on Connect the World, a city scarred, decades later we're in Sarajevo live for the 20th Anniversary of the Bosnia war.

Then, as Christians celebrate Easter, a controversial filmmaker says he's got new proof about Jesus' tomb.

And 100 years after she sank, a new campaign to save the Titanic. It's all ahead on CONNECT THE WORLD.


RAJPAL: A warm welcome to those of you watching us from Europe and around the world. I'm Monita Rajpal, and these are the latest world headlines from CNN.

Syrian activists say the regime is trying to pound them into submission before a cease-fire is due to take effect next week. They say at least 48 people were killed across the country on Friday.

A US Navy fighter jet slammed into this apartment complex in Virginia Friday. Both crew members of the FA-18 managed to eject safely. They, along with four people on the ground, were taken to hospital with non-life- threatening injuries.

The president of Malawi is dead. The government says President Bingu wa Mutharika suffered a fatal heart attack Thursday. They say his body was then flown to South Africa. The 78-year-old former World Bank economist had served as president since 2004.

Twenty years ago, the world saw a new conflict begin, the Bosnian War. Today, the world paid tribute to its victims, exactly 11,541 blood-red chairs were lined up along central Sarajevo, one for every man, woman, and child killed during the 44-month siege of the Bosnian capital. In all, the country's civil war left more than 100,000 people dead.

Well, the late 20th century was supposed to be the era of "never again," but genocide and ethnic cleansing came back with a vengeance. The Bosnian War of 1992 to 1995 was the bloodiest conflict in Europe since the second World War. Civilians were moving targets, especially in Sarajevo, where snipers would kill people who were just trying to cross the street.

It all kicked off when Yugoslavia started to crumble. Bosnia's Muslims and Croats wanted independence, but Bosnian Serbs didn't, and their forces seized more than two-thirds of Bosnian territory, driving out non- Serbs.

In 1995, 8,000 Muslims were massacred after the fall of the UN's so- called "safe area" of Srebrenica. After that, NATO intervened, helping to bring the conflict to an end. Bosnian Serb leader Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic are both facing trial for genocide over Srebrenica.

Of course, CNN was there, bringing you extensive coverage of the conflict as it happened, especially during the siege of Sarajevo. CNN's Christiane Amanpour and Nic Robertson were on the ground with the Bosnians and braved the capital's infamous Sniper Alley. Sarajevo's main boulevard was turned into a death zone by snipers hidden among the high-rise buildings and in the surrounding mountains.

Nic is back in Sarajevo for us, and he joins us, now, live. Nic, and we want to get your memories and reflections of that time in just a moment. We want to first ask you about some of the very poignant ceremonies that took place there today.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was a very poignant ceremony, and it's incredible when you go and look at those chairs that were lined up today, as we did.

What you realize when you look at the chairs. If there was a person sitting in every one of those chairs, that was the number of people that were killed, the number of 11,541 people, according to the Bosnian government, were killed inside during the siege of Sarajevo. That was how many chairs there were there.

There were mixed emotions from people. I think one of the things that caught a lot of people's interest were the fact that there were some small chairs there for children, representing that the children who were killed. On some of those chairs were children's toys. We saw people standing at the side, crying as they looked at all of this.

So, many people, they'd put the war behind them, and there's been mixed feelings about this commemoration today, some people saying they really don't want the war to be brought up again, and other people feeling that it was fitting to have this -- to have this commemoration.

But it was staggering when you looked at that number of chairs that stretched over -- for almost half a mile along the center of Sarajevo today. That was a lot of people that were killed in the city, and that's what drew the crowds out today to remember that moment, Monita.

RAJPAL: Nic, take us back 20 years ago and what it was like for you to be there, covering this.

ROBERTSON: Well, it was -- you certainly wouldn't be standing here. This road next to me was known as Sniper Alley. You -- certainly wouldn't have seen all the people walking along behind me. It was too dangerous for people in their normal cars to drive by. Too dangerous for people to walk along.

But the city has come back to life, now. It was a very difficult place to report at the time. We went back to talk to some of the journalists, here, that we met during the time, to get their impression and their ideas of how the city has changed and their expectations of what they wanted at the time. Have those expectations been realized, now, in peace time?


ROBERTSON (voice-over): Running, literally for their lives. A flashback nearly 20 years, when getting to work for journalist Marija and Senad meant dodging a sniper's bullet. Today, there's no need to rush.

ROBERTSON (on camera): So, it was almost 20 years ago we were running along Sniper Alley right down there with you.


ROBERTSON: When you think back to it now, does that seem crazy, outlandish?

MARIJA SULLIVAN, AUTHOR, "SARAJEVO WALLS OF FATE": Definitely crazy. I have -- I wouldn't do it again.




ROBERTSON: What about you, Senad?

GUBELIC: Well, we didn't think about it. We were doing our work. We were doing our job.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Marija left the paper, is now an author.

ROBERTSON (on camera): You have a 13-year-old daughter. How do you explain all that, doing what you did back then, to her now?

SULLIVAN: Well, I think she's not ready yet. She's now into Harry Potter and she read all the books, and she reads all these Twilight things, and she's totally disinterested in what was happening at the time.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): At that time, Marija hoped her newspaper's multi-ethnic makeup would be a model for her daughter's generation.

SULLIVAN: There is the hope for all of us, not to be divided. Not to be on different sides, but to be together, here, as we are together inside this building.

ROBERTSON (on camera): Is that working? That model?

SULLIVAN: I'm afraid that nowadays, people with mixed backgrounds are getting to be more and more irrelevant.

ROBERTSON: But are the politics of today enshrining some of those divisions and making it harder to go back to that mixed identity?

SULLIVAN: Absolutely. Absolutely.

ROBERTSON (voice-over): Senad is now "Oslobodenje's" senior photographer.

ROBERTSON (on camera): You're preparing an exhibition for the anniversary of the war.

GUBELIC: Yes. It -- actually, it was -- we have today a special edition of "Oslobodenje" considering this -- this event.

ROBERTSON: I know you're doing all this because of the 20th anniversary, but --


ROBERTSON: -- do you normally, these days, do you talk about the war, do you think about the war much?

GUBELIC: Actually, we have sometimes, not all the time, because now it's different. You have lots of work to do, there is the daily assignments, and I have lots of young photographers, you can see, who are working with me. And sometimes we discuss about that, what was in the past, but not all the time.

ROBERTSON: To me, now, the city has a feel of it's -- it's coming back. Do you --

GUBELIC: It's coming back with just -- let's say luxury looks, but for the ordinary people who were during the war here didn't need the fabrics, they should have a lot of work, a lot of factories so that they could have money for living and to pay the bills and payments for the children to have school and things like that.

ROBERTSON: So, jobs are the big issue?


ROBERTSON: Once burned and bashed by shells just yards from the front line, Oslobodenje, like much of the rest of the country, is rising from the ashes. For Marija and Senad, it's clear there's still some way to go.


RAJPAL: And Nic, we heard you say that you -- the feel that you have there of the city, that it's coming back, but now, 20 years on, what do you -- what's your sense of what's actually been achieved?

ROBERTSON: Well, certainly the city is attracting some investment in terms of new hotels being built, one behind me in the distance is -- will be the Four Seasons, we're told. That's what people are expecting it to be.

There are other hotels that are being build, other office blocks, other apartment buildings, so money is coming into the city. So, you can see that an amount of investment is coming, but what people really want are more jobs and that they hope the integration to the European Union will bring that.

And there's also a real sense, and we heard it there from those journalists, that there needs to be political changes in the country. The peace process that was hammered out in Dayton almost 20 years ago did bring peace, but it sort of brought -- still enshrines, in many ways, those ethnic divisions that existed back then.

And a lot of people see the peace, but they realize to get to the next stage, they -- and the next stage of investment and jobs, as well -- they need the political process to change to allow people to vote for sort of non-ethnically-based parties, if you will, and some of that's enshrined in the constitution.

So, there's a lot that has happened, and you feel that in the city. People have really left the war behind them in their minds for the most part. That's progress, here, that you see, as well.

But it's very clear that to sort of take the next step, more needs to be done, and that's going to have to happen from the political leaders, and there's an exasperation among many people here with those political leaders, Monita.

RAJPAL: All right, Nic, thank you. Nic Robertson in Sarajevo.

As Christians celebrate their holiest week, a filmmaker makes new claims of proof about the discovery of Jesus' tomb. What he found, that's ahead.


RAJPAL: Christians the world over are marking the last hours of Jesus' life on Good Friday. Pope Benedict XVI led the ceremony at the Vatican, which were to be followed by a reenactment of the crucifixion.

In Jerusalem, pilgrims carrying crosses walked along the path Jesus is believed to have walked, now called the Way of Suffering.

Well, as Christians prepare to celebrate Easter this Sunday, a controversial filmmaker says he's made a new discovery, one that supports his earlier claim that he discovered Jesus' tomb. Matthew Chance has the story.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An unbelievable discovery, the tomb of Jesus, found.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jesus' body would have been laid right here.


MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's no shortage of hype around this latest Easter revelation. Controversial filmmaker already identified what he says was the Jesus family tomb. Now, he says there's proof in a second tomb close by.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is the symbol of Christian resurrection.


SIMCHA JACOBOVICI, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER: I think these two things together may, arguably, be the most important archeological finds of the last couple of hundred years.

CHANCE: The ossuaries, or bone boxes, found at the tomb show what Simcha Jacobovici describes as a fish swallowing a man, probably Jonah. There's also an inscription in Greek and Hebrew, which has been translated as saying, "God, rise up."

JACOBOVICI: Right over here, you have the earliest icon of Christian belief, the earliest statement of resurrection anywhere -- found anywhere. Even if it's not connected to Jesus, it's the earliest statement. You have something dating back earlier than the Gospels.

CHANCE: But the technology for accessing the tomb was 21st century. Jacobovici and his team inserted a robotic arm into the tomb chamber, taking high-definition images without disturbing its contents. It meant the tomb could be explored with minimum disruption.

CHANCE (on camera): Well, it's beneath this modern apartment block in a suburb of Jerusalem that the tomb and its supposedly early Christian contents are located.

But it doesn't end here. The true significance of this site, says Jacobovici, is its proximity to another much more controversial tomb just a few hundred feet over there, about which, of course, he also made a film.


CHANCE (voice-over): Five Easters ago, "The Lost Tomb of Jesus" made another staggering revelation, that Christ was buried in a family tomb. Critics panned the documentary, but Jacobovici says his latest work adds fresh evidence.

JACOBOVICI: Nobody argues to this day that in East Talpiot, outside of Jerusalem, there was a family where a man named Jesus son of Joseph was buried with two Marys, with somebody named Joses, exactly like the brother of Jesus. Nobody argues. But they say it's not that Jesus, it's a different Jesus.

OK. When you suddenly find the earliest signs of Christianity right next-door to a Jesus who is not that Jesus, it forces a reevaluation of the original find. You have to say, wait a minute.

CHANCE: But skeptical archeologists say evidence the second tomb is early Christian is far from clear-cut. It depends largely, they say, on whether the fish on the side of the bone box is indeed a fish or an amphora, urns commonly seen in Jewish burial art.

JACOBOVICI: You see a fish, here. And you see a stick figure, almost like a child, spitting out this bubble head, a human being.

CHANCE (on camera): Is it a fish, though, or is it a -- is it an amphora? Is it an urn?

JACOBOVICI: If you have an urn like this at home, and if you think you can drink from an urn like this, then all the power to you.

CHANCE: I don't have a fish like that at home.

CHANCE (voice-over): There will, of course, be doubters and those who believe. But this controversial Easter debate is once again being stoked at precisely the right time.

Matthew Chance, CNN, Jerusalem.


RAJPAL: Still to come on CONNECT THE WORLD, would you have tried for the lifeboat? A hundred years after she sank, we'll take you back to the Titanic and talk to the man who discovered the world's most famous wreckage.


RAJPAL: Catastrophe and courage. It's a combination that can transform tragedy into legend, and that's what happened a hundred years ago this month when a great ship was sinking into a freezing sea.

Since then, the Titanic disaster has never faded from the world's imagination. With events planned to mark the Titanic's tragic anniversary, CNN's Zain Verjee asked the man who discovered the wreckage why he's now on a mission.


ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are some of the last images captured of the Titanic until her wreck was discovered 73 years later on the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean.

BOB BALLARD, TITANIC DISCOVERER: There's a knock on my cabin door, and it's 2:00 in the morning that's odd. And I come into the command centers, a room about this size, and just as I walked in, our robot went over a boiler of the Titanic.

And we had the picture of that boiler hanging on the wall. And we went, "It's Titanic." And we exploded. We were -- the tension. We were down to the last couple of days.

And then, someone innocently looks at the clock and says, "She sinks in 20 minutes." It was 2:00 in the morning, she sank at 2:20. And that innocent comment, we were embarrassed that we were dancing and screaming and celebrating. There was nothing to celebrate.

And it was like someone hit an emotional switch, and we just -- poof. And we were very moved. It hit us. Because we were at the spot.

VERJEE: At the spot where 1,514 people lost their lives on a ship that was meant to be unsinkable. For Ballard and his team, it was like stepping back in time.

BALLARD: We went down and we saw the human -- where humans had landed. That nailed us, because the Titanic hit the iceberg and it broke in half, and this giant object, the largest moving object on the planet sinks violently and everything comes raining --

Well, the people who were still trying to survive are floating above it, 12,000 feet above it, and the temperature's below freezing, and it finally gets the ones in the water. It takes about 25 minutes, the hypothermia. And they just loose grips.

And now, all these bodies start coming down. Hundreds and hundreds of bodies are now raining down, landing all over the ocean floor.

Well, animals immediately find them and consume them, exposing their skeletons. Well, the deep sea at those depths dissolve bones. It takes about five years to completely cause the skeleton to vanish. But what's left behind are their shoes they're wearing.

All over the Titanic are pairs of shoes. Not a single shoe, a pair of shoes. And you'll see scenes -- the one that knocked me away was a mother's shoes, next to her were her daughter's shoes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They created a ship of dreams --

VERJEE: It's the people more than the ship that most intrigues this legendary explorer, and in "Save the Titanic," a new documentary that premiers this month on National Geographic channel, Ballard traces their stories.

BALLARD: It's the story of the people that built her, sailed on her, and died on her. We're going back to Belfast, we're finding people who have never spoken about it, who have been in silence and now are coming forward. Belfast is finally embracing the fact they built the Titanic.

VERJEE: Indeed, they should. So much of the ship remains intact on the seabed, but the question is, for how much longer?

BALLARD: When we first found the Titanic, we went in and made a beautiful mosaic of the whole bow section before people touched it. We came back 20 years later and did it all over again, and we put them side by side, and you can see the damage, not by Mother Nature, but by the submarines.

They're right there. See those big, orange -- ? That's where the submarines have been landing, and you can see it's just -- it's breaking down the deck, it's crushing it.

VERJEE: By law, Ballard and his team could have claimed the Titanic as their own property, but they chose to leave it undisturbed. Tourists and trophy hunters have not been as respectful. The famed crow's nest from where the iceberg was spotted is among the victims of visitors.

BALLARD: They're not doing it on purpose, but it's like a bull in a china closet. And they turn and they hit things, and you can see every place they landed. And the question is, is we don't mind you visiting it. But you don't go to the Louvre and stick your finger in the Mona Lisa. So, there should be some sort of rules.

VERJEE: And not just for the sake of the Titanic. Ballard has gone on to discover countless other wrecks, including a 1500-year-old ship in the Black Sea.

BALLARD: There's over a million -- think about this -- a million ancient shipwrecks yet to be discovered. Time capsules. But there's no rules. It's like -- it's the biggest museum on the planet, but there's no lock on the door.

So, the question to society, technology is a two-edged sword. It can cut both ways. Do we go through this new museum we're discovering to appreciate, or to plunder?

VERJEE: Zain Verjee, CNN, London.


RAJPAL: And I'm Monita Rajpal. That was CONNECT THE WORLD. Thank you for watching. The world headlines are up next after this short break.