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U.S. Drops "Mother of All Bombs" on ISIS; Japan Warns North Korea Could Fire Sarin Loaded Missiles; Trump Turns to China on Dealing with North Korea; Syria's Assad Calls the Chemical Attack Fake; Russia Slams U.S. Intelligence Gathering; U.S. Military: Russia & Iran May Be Aiding Taliban; Passenger Dragged Off Flight Likely To Sue; Still Missing Three Years; World Sports. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired April 14, 2017 - 02:00   ET


[02:00:40] ISHA SESAY, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour, the U.S. military drops a so-called "mother of all bombs" on ISIS in Afghanistan.

Plus a warning from Japan, North Korea could be able to load chemical weapons onto its missiles.

And later, three years after Boko Haram kidnapped 300 schoolgirls in Nigeria, what's been done to bring them back our girls?

Hello, and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I am Isha Sesay. This is NEWSROOM L.A.

For the first time the U.S. has unleashed its most powerful conventional weapon in combat using it against an ISIS target in Afghanistan. The Afghan Defense Ministry says at least 36 ISIS fighters were killed in Thursday's strike. It adds the ISIS base was, quote, "annihilated." Dropping the so-called "mother of bombs" was the third time in a week that the Trump administration has made a dramatic show of force in a troubled spot around the world.

We get the latest now from CNN's Barbara Starr.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the first time ever, the "mother of all bombs" was used by the U.S. military in combat. The largest non-nuclear bomb used in combat targeting ISIS fighters in eastern Afghanistan's remote Nangarhar Province. A U.S. Air Force Special Operations MC-130 dropped the bomb via parachute.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We targeted a system of tunnels and caves that ISIS fighters used to move around freely making it easier for them to target U.S. military advisers and Afghan forces in the area.

STARR: The MOAB, the Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb, is a 21,600- pound bomb that explodes in the air. Its blast is supposed to destroy a target area that can spread over thousands of feet. On Saturday, a U.S. Army Special Operations soldier was killed in combat in the same area.

SPICER: The United States takes the fight against ISIS very seriously and in order to defeat the group we must deny them operational space, which we did.

STARR: One reason it was used the area is so remote the U.S. believes there were no nearby civilians.

MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPICER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: They probably had a very large concentration and it made perfect sense based on the time of day that they were going to attack that they could have a massive kill in this area, not putting any special operators or any conventional forces at risk.

STARR: Now the challenge, did the bomb work as planned in its first combat mission?

MARKS: It explodes above the ground at a distance depending upon what type of a shape and a blast you want to have, and as described, it's a concussive blast so everybody underneath that thing is either obliterated, ears are bleeding or they're completely destroyed.

STARR (on camera): While the U.S. doesn't think that civilians were in the area when the bomb fell, U.S. aircraft and drones will be overhead looking for any evidence that civilians were in the area and looking for an assessment of the damage caused.

Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.


SESAY: Well, the provincial government in Afghanistan told AFP news agency the explosion was the biggest he'd ever seen with, quote, "towering flames that engulfed the area."

Sune Engel Rasmussen is a reporter for the "Guardian" newspaper based in Kabul, Afghanistan. He joins us now live.

Good to see you once again. As been stressed this was the "mother of all bombs." We know what it was targeting. What are you hearing about the impact on the ground to structures and indeed loss of life?

SUNE ENGEL RASMUSSEN, REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: We haven't heard a lot about loss of lives yet. It's been really difficult to get in touch with people in the area. And as you mentioned, this is an area where there are very few civilians are living. At least the area that was directly targeted.

And I've spoken to some people in villages about a mile and a half from the blast site. They say that their windows are blown out. There's a crack -- they have cracks in the walls. They say that it was the loudest blast they ever heard, even though one of the people I spoke to has experienced a drone strike targeting a nearby house in the village.

So obviously a very, very impactful explosion. But we're going to have to wait a little bit to assess the damage, especially in terms of civilian lives.

[02:05:03] SESAY: How much of a setback is this to ISIS operations there in Afghanistan?

RASMUSSEN: It's hard to say at this point. I think the U.S. has been targeting ISIS for quite a while out in Nangarhar. Last year they upped the number of airstrikes dramatically from the year before. And about a year and a half ago they assessed that there were about 2,000 ISIS fighters in the area. Now they're saying there's between 600 and 800 fighters.

What effect this bomb will have we don't know. As I said, there are some 30 to 40 people killed according to the U.S. military. But I think the intended impact of this bomb is more psychological. It's a bomb that's designed to scare people and to make the enemy give up. Whether it will have that effect is -- we're going to have to wait and see. But it's important to remember also that a lot of the fighters from ISIS, the majority of the fighters are not Afghans. They are Pakistanis or they're from Central Asia. So they don't necessarily live in the area but were recruited from across the border.

SESAY: All right. Sune Engel Rasmussen joining us there with the very latest and some important perspective.

Sune, appreciate it. Thank you.

RASMUSSEN: You're welcome.

SESAY: Well, Japan's prime minister says North Korea could be capable of launching missiles armed with Sarin. That's the same chemical allegedly used by Syria in a deadly attack against civilians last week. Shinzo Abe didn't provide any evidence, but he says the security situation in the region is getting increasingly severe. Analysts say satellite imagery shows North Korea could be preparing for another nuclear test.

Let's bring in Alexandra Field, she's in Seoul, South Korea, and Matt Rivers in Beijing.

Alexandra, let's start with you. Again, we still are looking to see whether there will be a test of some kind by North Korea in the coming hours. Are we seeing any more activity at that nuclear site that 38 North was focused on? Anything in the last couple of hours?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, nothing in the last few hours, Isha, but U.S. officials have continued to say that North Korea is ready to pull off its six nuclear tests so we could see it happen at any time. The decision is up to Kim Jong-un. At the moment, though, the development that we are seeing is that the North Korean state news agency is again pushing back against the U.S.

They are using KCNA to again send a message to say that it is the U.S. that has raised the stakes in the region by sending in the USS Carl Vinson, that is that aircraft carrier strike group. They say that the presence of this nuclear strategic assets in the region is threatening stability. It could bring this region to the brink of war. This is the kind of rhetoric that you do hear from North Korean state news.

All eyes, of course, on North Korea to see whether or not they will conduct that nuclear test perhaps as early as this weekend as some people have conjectured. In the meantime, though, there are other threats that are being considered from North Korea. Right here in the region you've got the Japanese prime minister considering the possibility that they could also be capable of some kind of attack using a chemical weapon.


FIELD (voice-over): Satellite images appear to show new activity at North Korea's main nuclear site. Analysts say it's primed and prepped for the country's sixth nuclear test. The tension rising while concerns are growing over whether the regime could pose a chemical weapons threat.

SHINZO ABE, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (Through Translator): There is a possibility that North Korea has already a capability to put Sarin on warheads to strike the ground. Just recently over a hundred innocent citizens including babies and children fell victim to this gas in Syria.

FIELD: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calling the security situation increasingly severe as U.S. warships reach the waters off the Korean Peninsula, a warning message from Washington.

TONG ZHAO, CARNEGIE-TSINGHUA CENTER FOR GLOBAL POLICY: Many people believe North Korean leadership is irrational. It's willing to do anything for the regime's survival.

FIELD: The goal for North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un? An intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a nuclear- tipped war head to the continental U.S. Analysts say he's already capable of creating regional chaos, disaster with chemical weapons.

ZHAO: It's not very, you know, economical for the North Koreans to use an ICBM to deliver some chemical weapons agents all the way to the homeland United States. It only makes sense for nuclear warhead delivery. So, again, I agree that chemical weapons are more relevant for regional targets such as Seoul and some targets in Japan.

FIELD: Two years ago, U.S. Defense officials concluded North Korea was capable of it. "North Korea probably has had a long-standing chemical weapons program with the capability to produce nerve, blister, blood and choking agents. They probably could employ chemical weapons agents by modifying a variety of conventional munitions including artillery and ballistic missiles."

In 2011 former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry testified.

[02:10:04] JOHN KERRY, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: They have one of the largest stock piles in the world.

FIELD: Kim Jong-Un is already accused of deploying a chemical weapon of mass destruction. U.S. and South Korean officials say VX agent was used to kill his half brother Kim Jong-Nam and that the dictator ordered the hit. North Korea denies any involvement.


FIELD: It is up to Kim Jong-Un to decide when exactly to conduct a sixth nuclear test. We should point out that this weekend marks a major holiday on North Korea's calendar, the celebration of the founder's birthday. People are watching closely because we know that North Korea has in the past used these big national events as an opportunity to launch provocative actions -- Isha.

SESAY: Alexandra Field, with the very latest there from Seoul, South Korea. Alexandra, appreciate it. Thank you.

Well, the bombing in Afghanistan is sending a message to countries around the world. President Trump is not afraid to use his military might. Reporters asked him specifically what it says to North Korea.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know if this sends a message. It doesn't make any difference if it does or not. North Korea's a problem. The problem will be taken care of.

I will say this. I think China has really been working very hard. I have really gotten to like and respect, as you know, President Xi. He's a terrific person. We spent a lot of time together in Florida. And he's a very special man. So we'll see how it goes. I think he's going to try very hard.


SESAY: Well, let's turn now to Matt Rivers who joins us from Beijing.

Matt, we heard what the president was saying there but actions do speak louder than words. Does the bombing of that ISIS complex in Afghanistan also send a message to China as much as it sends one to North Korea?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think when you couple what happened in Afghanistan with what happened in Syria, with the administration launching these two different airstrikes, I think if there's a message being sent to China, it's that, look, the United States is willing to actually pull the trigger, to show force around the world.

And we do know that generally speaking in the past the Chinese leaders, Beijing government, they respect strength. They do respect the willingness to follow through on actions. Now whether or not the Trump administration was specifically trying to send a message to China, we're just not sure about that. I don't think there's any way really to know that one way or the another. But it really is all about how the China -- the Chinese are going to perceive these actions. And I think that they're going to look at these two things and they're going to say, well, the Trump administration clearly willing to do certain things that the Obama administration was not. And they're going to take that into their calculations when it comes to dealing with North Korea in the future.

SESAY: Matt Rivers joining us there from Beijing with much needed perspective.

Matt, thank you.

Time for a quick break now. And coming up, Syria's president sits down for an interview and accuses the West of helping terrorist him -- hear more, rather, what Bashar al-Assad had to say, next.




[02:17:04] SESAY: Syria's president is calling reports of lasting week's chemical attack, quote, "100 percent fabrication." This is despite eyewitness reports and independent analysis that contradict his assertion.

During an exclusive interview with AFP TV Bashar al-Assad said the Syrian military does not possess chemical weapons and that it would not use them if it did. He also discussed the West -- he also accused the West of working hand in glove with terrorists.


BASHAR AL-ASSAD, SYRIAN PRESIDENT (Through Translator): The United States and the West, they're not here in fighting the terrorists, and yesterday some of the statements were defending ISIS. They were saying that ISIS doesn't have chemical weapons. They are defending ISIS against the Syrian government and the Syrian army. So actually, you cannot talking about partnership between us, who work against the terrorists and who fight the terrorism, and the others who supporting explicitly the terrorist.


SESAY: Well, AFP TV was not allowed to film the interview with Assad. That was done by Syria's presidency.

CNN's Ian Lee joins us now from Istanbul, Turkey, with more. And Ian, it's a remarkable interview, reading the transcript, just to hear President Assad to just come out and flatly say that the attack last week was entirely fabricated, going even further than Russia.

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And you have all this mounting evidence that contradicts his statements. You have the communications United States said that they incepted of the Syrian regime talking about this chemical weapons attack. You have the flight path of the aircraft that allegedly conducted this chemical weapons attack. And then you have the samples that were taken, Isha in Turkey and else -- when they conducted autopsies that pointed to Sarin gas. And despite all of that, President Assad is still casting doubt that this attack even happened in the first place. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASSAD: The West, mainly the United States, is hand in glove with the terrorists. They fabricated the whole story in order to have pretext for the attack. We don't know whether the dead children, were they killed in Khan Sheikhoun? Were they dead at all? Who committed the attack if there was attack? What the -- you have no information at all. Nothing at all. Not investigated.


LEE: Isha, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons which oversaw the destruction of Syria's known stockpiles of chemical weapons from 2013 to 2016 said that there is credible evidence that there was this gas attack. We also had our own Ben Wedeman who was down there talking to people in the aftermath of this chemical weapons attack. So you have all this mounting evidence that points to this being the Syrian regime yet what President Assad and his Russian allies have yet to give anything that contradicts that.

[02:20:10] SESAY: One of the things that I found remarkable in following what he said, and looking at his message, was the language he uses in this interview. He talked of fake news and the deep state. Very specific, loaded terms that we hear right here in the United States. Language that President Trump and his supports have used against their critics. Now Assad is turning that on the Americans and using that same language against President Trump and his supporters.

LEE: That's right. You really got to think of what is President Assad's objective when he gives an interview like this, especially after a chemical weapons attack that we saw in Idlib Province. And really, it is more probably for domestic consumption than trying to change anyone's minds in Washington or in the European capitals or really anywhere else around the world. He needs to convince his people at home and his supporters that have stuck by him that he was not responsible for this. He needs to reassure them and that's really probably his objective when it comes to giving an interview like this.

SESAY: Ian Lee, joining us there from Istanbul, Turkey. Ian, thank you so much.

Well, Russia is criticizing the U.S. for how it gathered intelligence on the chemical attack in Syria. On Thursday CNN reported the U.S. military and intelligence community intercepted communications that included Syrian military and chemical experts talking about preparations for the Sarin attack that killed 89 people.

CNN received that information from a senior U.S. official. Both Syria and Russia have denied involvement.

Let's go straight to CNN's Paula Newton. She joins us from Moscow with more on Russia's reaction to that CNN report and, Paula, I guess it's no surprise to hear that Moscow is pushing back.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, we just have to make clear, though, and Barbara Starr at the Pentagon made this clear as did some U.S. officials saying, look, the information was gathered -- with everything that we've seen so far, there is no indication that Russia knew about the attack beforehand. Of course, as you said, that hasn't stopped the Russian Defense Ministry from pushing back, and they claim, posting on their Web site, that pulling the wool over the eyes has recently been a hobby of the American intelligence agencies as it maintains the image of secret organizations upon the established tradition. Every breach of the international law -- they're accusing the United States there, Isha, of military aggression and saying that they have pseudo proof.

Now this is all a back and forth. Right, Isha? Punch, counter punch. But in terms of what's going on here, there again as you just alluded to what they're trying to do, what the Syrian leadership was trying to do, they're trying to use the Americans' own tactics against them and saying look, this is absolutely made-up information. There is no way that they have this information and more to the point it's -- the use of typical word that they like is which is absurd. And they say that all of this information has been put out there in a campaign, a program of disinformation on the part of the Pentagon.

SESAY: Well, Paula, we understand that the prime ministers of Iran, Syria and Russia will be meeting there in Moscow shortly. And I think it's probably again one of those moments where we would probably see them all on the same page and that will what they'll be looking to project to the world, which was being contrast to what happened when Secretary Tillerson met with his G-7 counterparts and failed to, you know, get that strong mandate from those other members of the group.

NEWTON: Yes, that is glaring, isn't it? Rex Tillerson leaves G-7 and specifically Germany and Italy saying no, we're not going to give you any kind of carte blanche to go to Russia and threaten more sanctions. There was not a united front there with both allies saying look, Russia has a seat at the table. By contrast, yes, the Foreign Ministry here was only too pleased to know about this trilateral meeting.

But believe me, Isha, it has contention issues of its own. Now if you leave Syria aside for one moment, because they are basically the patrons of both Russia and Iran, Russia and Iran before the U.S. strikes had some differences of opinion about the way that the Syrian future should go. The U.S. airstrikes now have moved those two countries closer together. And what they are likely trying to do is make sure that they come up with what they believe the end game should be in Syria, something that would favor both Russia and Iran in that country. As I said, the U.S. airstrikes bringing those two countries, who've had a history of distrust, even though they've been allies, have brought them closer together.

SESAY: Paula Newton joining us there from Moscow. Paula, thanks as always.

A senior U.S. official is blasting WikiLeaks for its alleged ties to Russia. Here's what CIA Director Mike Pompeo said at a think tank Thursday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [02:25:03] MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service. It's time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is, a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.


SESAY: Well, Pompeo's remarks clashed with past comments by U.S. president Donald Trump. He praised WikiLeaks during his campaign for leaking e-mails tied to Hillary Clinton, and to a degree so did Pompeo. WikiLeaks responded to his criticism on Twitter, "Bringing up this delete tweet. In it Pompeo implied the leak Clinton's nomination was fixed. And then Barack Obama on down."

Time for a quick break. "STATE OF AMERICA" with Kate Bolduan is next for our viewers in Asia. Coming up for everyone else, the U.S. goes after ISIS in Afghanistan with one of the biggest conventional bombs ever created. The U.S. military warns its objectives on the ground are being undermined by Russia and Iran.


SESAY: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I am Isha Sesay. The headlines this hour.

For the first time the U.S. has used its most powerful non-nuclear weapon in combat. The enormous 10-metric ton MOAB bomb was dropped on a tunnel complex used by ISIS in eastern Afghanistan. The Afghan Ministry of Defense says at least 36 ISIS fighters were killed and their base was annihilated.

Japan's prime minister says North Korea could be capable of launching missiles armed with the nerve agent Sarin. Shinzo Abe didn't provide any evidence but new satellite imagery shows North Korea could be preparing for another nuclear test.

[02:30:05] At least five people are dead in a week of violent protests in Venezuela. The latest victim was shot during in a demonstration on Tuesday and later died of his injuries. Huge crowds have been protesting against the President Nicolas Maduro.

Well, Thursday's U.S. airstrike in the Eastern Afghanistan targeted ISIS. But U.S. military commanders warned that Russia and the Iran may be inserting themselves into the Afghan conflict in direction opposition to U.S. interests.

CNN's Cyril Vanier explains.


CYRIL VANIER, CNN REPORTER: This is what more than 21,000 pounds of ordinance looks like. From a few dozen kilometers away, a thick cloud one can only guess at the level of destruction. After years of scaling down its efforts in Afghanistan, the U.S. military has used its most devastating bomb short of a nuclear weapon. This one was aimed at ISIS in the east of the country. Parts of the southwest meanwhile have been overrun by the Taliban insurgency. And as the U.S. led coalition tries to navigate the Afghan mine field, it's finding familiar foes in its way.

GEN. JOHN W. NICHOLSON JR., COMMANDER, U.S. FORCES, AFGHANISTAN: When we look at Russia and Iranian factions Afghanistan, I believe in part there to undermine the United States and NATO.

VANIER: Russia and Iran working against U.S. interests, this from the top American commander in Afghanistan.

NICHOLSON JR.: They have begun to publicly legitimize the Taliban.

VANIER: According to the Washington Post, local Afghan leaders go a step further alleging that Iran and Russia provide weapons and military instructors to the Taliban, sending the hardware across the porous Iran-Afghanistan boarder. A charge that both countries deny. But there growing involvement here is undeniable, holding several rounds of talks with other regional countries.

And each time the U.S. the main foreign force in Afghanistan is conspicuously absent. As in Syria, Mosque and Tehran seeks to expand their regional influence. As in Syria, they're unafraid to butt-heads with the United States. And just like in Syria it appears the proxy battles with only pro-long the conflict.

Cyril Vanier, CNN.


SESAY: Well, the outrage isn't ending of a violence incident on the United Airlines Flight. Dr. David Dao's was brutally dragged off a plane earlier this week in Chicago. Video of the incident sparked anger across the world. Now, the victims legal team is promising to sue as Dao's lawyer explain the situation.


THOMAS DEMETRIO, UNITED PASSENGER ATTORNEY: I would defy any one to suggest that there was not unreasonable force and violence used to help Dr. Dao disembark that plane. He did in fact suffer a significant concussion as a result of disembarking that plane. And I can also tell you that he had a serious broken nose, injury to the sinuses. And he is going to be undergoing shortly reconstructive surgery.


SESAY: Well, Dao's attendee is indicating that the upcoming lawsuit will be filed against both the airline and the city of Chicago. A quick break her. And then, they haven't seen their love once in three years. We'll take a look at Nigeria's struggle to find almost 200 missing girls.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [02:36:18] SESAY: Most of the girls Boko Haram kidnapped, the Chibok School are still away from their families three years later. Their loved ones have no answers. Some girls were freed, other's escape. But nearly 200 are still being held captive. Here's a look back at how it all started.


SESAY (voice-over): It was April 14th, 2014, 276 teenage girls were taken from their school in the middle of the night. Some of the girls were able to escape in the hours that followed. It happened in the town of Chibok in Borno State Northeast Nigeria. They were captured by the terrorist group Boko Haram.

Several weeks late Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau released the video claiming responsibility for abducting the girls and threatening to sell them as slaves.

With international outrage mounting, protests began over the Nigeria government's failure to bring the girls home. And a social media campaign hash tag "Bringback our girls" was launched. A month later the hash tag had been Twitted over one million times by people around the globe including politician, celebrities and then first lady Michelle Obama.

One year after the girls were taken in April of 2015, Muhammadu Buhari won Nigeria's presidential election and vowed to curb Boko Haram's violence. Another year goes by. In April 2016 CNN obtained a proof of life video sent by their captors showing 15 of the girls. We shared it with several of the girl's mothers some tearful moments as they recognized their daughters.

In October last year, the Nigerian government announced some of the girls were freed after negotiations with Boko Haram. I was there when two months later those 21 girls finally returned to Chibok and reunite with there families. The room, almost vibrating with the sound of unbridle joy.

But for some waiting parents, heart break, these women have come looking for their daughters who are still being held by Boko Haram. They thought their children were among the group who were coming home for Christmas.

(on camera): There has been such an outpouring of grief amidst the joy. The piercing screams of mothers realizing that indeed they are not to being reunited with their daughters on this day, which has turned what should have been an overwhelmingly happy moment into a bittersweet one.

(voice-over): Although several other girls managed to escape over the course of the past three years, the majority of those kidnapped remain in Boko Haram captivity to this day.


SESAY: Well, let's take a closer look at this now with Mausi Segun. She is a Senior Nigeria researcher to Human Rights Watch and joins me now, live from Abuja (INAUDIBLE). Thank you for joining us. It's sad to have you with us on this very, very sad anniversary and hard to believe that the girls are still not back with their loved ones.

At this point is the Nigerian government giving these families any sense of hope. A reason to believe they will be reunited with their girls in the near future?

MAUSI SEGUN, SENIOR NIGERIAN RESEARCHER: I think I said that really is the problem. It's the lack of communication. It's the lack of information for these parents and makes this even more heart broken.

[02:40:02] It's been three years. They have to listen to the news to understand what the government is doing. There is no direct communication with them concerning their, you know, whatever is what's efforts government is making.

The government had said a few days ago that they are still in negotiations with Boko Haram. I guess that's most of the good news, but it's just not enough. It's not enough, because it is the responsibility of the government to find these girls, to locate them, and to get them rescued. It is a legal obligation on the part of the Nigerian government and they're simply not doing enough.

SESAY: We are talking about this, the fact we are marking this sad anniversary. But what about there in Nigeria is this story still one that people are remembering? Is this day something that significant numbers are marking and grieving alongside the parents?

SEGUN: You know, with Nigeria it's been especially concerning they're not this conflict. It's been one heart breaking story after another. You know about it "Bringing back our girls" advocacy group has done immensely in obtaining attention and interest in the fate of the still missing Chibok school girls.

I think there's no entire week starting last Sunday up until today and over the weekend. They've had series of programs to continue to enlighten, you know, everyone about the role that we play in putting pressure. Not just on the Nigerian government but also in some way on Boko Haram. You know, mounting that pressure, you know, touching whatever hearts and minds still exist within the group to continue to negotiate with the Nigerian government or release those girls without any kind of conditions at all.

SESAY: Our thanks to Mausi Segun from Human Rights Watch. Who would have thought that three years on all of them would not be back home now. But if you want to learn more about the Chibok girls, you can go for for three years' worth of our extensive reporting. And we remain committed to this story until all of these girls are reunited with their loved ones.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm Isha Sesay. "World Sport" is up next. Stay with CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Hi, there. Thanks for joining us today. I'm Patrick Snell, CNN here in Atlanta starting off with the continuation that really has been a difficult week for world football. The last few days over shadowed of course by those three explosions that went off near coach carrying the Borussia Dortmund team on Tuesday night, leading one player hospitalized and needing surgery.

So, no surprise then really that Thursday night's Europa League quarterfinal between Manchester United Anderlecht, playing out in a deep tightest security in the Belgian capital, Brussels, as the game it self United, would dominate large chunks out of it.

[04:45:11] And you'll be no surprise when they take the lead to their (INAUDIBLE) International Henrikh Mkhitaryan whose slot the home after the initial shot. But Marcus Rashford was saved. The host would hang in there though and they would level four minutes from time with 21- year-old Leander Dendoncker with a towering head pass Romero, 1-1 it ends, United with the vital away goal through.

To the Netherlands we go now where Ajax hosted Schalke of Armsterdam Arena. This one is going the way of the host who had Davy Klaassen to thank for a very timely grace. The first from (INAUDIBLE) a penalty dispatched without a problem. You know the Dutch teams haven't reached made to Europe semis since 1997, but they have a great chance now. A classic Klaassen adding a second two nail on the final score.

Troubling scenes those reports from the Lyon Besiktas clash France. Look at this kickoff had to be delayed by some 45 minutes. This after clashes outside the stadium there at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais that was before the game even got underway. And there was also trouble inside the arena as well with violence erupting behind one of the goals as the players were out warming up on the pitch fireworks and other objects were throne. And at one point Lyon club's President Jean-Michel Aulas set to go into the crowd to try and restore order.

In the world of football, continuing to come to terms with Tuesday night's explosions in Dortmund, London. After Monaco's 3-2 victory match, champion quarter finals first league tie. Borussia manager Thomas Tuchel appears to concretize the decision to play on that game less than 24 hours after the blast. So, governing body UEFA saying both clubs were in agreement for the game to go ahead. Well, Tuchel has been speaking out on the emotional toll of the last couple of days.


THOMAS TUCHEL, GERMAN FOOTBALL PLAYER: Today is my worst day, my ever. So, this morning and until now, I'm speaking again to the players this and for myself. It feels the worst state today. And while it was happening, it was kind of OK. Nobody knew what was going on. And you just do stuff that you have to do. And the next day was kind of a bit like of walking through (INAUDIBLE) like through a cloud to clear everything.

And I think this is a process that will accompany us through the next days and the weeks that we have to accept that it comes up and goes down. And it comes in away and sometimes you get very emotional about it. And sometimes you can feel this moment very realistic and sometimes it's far away. And just comes and goes like waves. And everybody -- most of us feel like it. And, you know, we have to find a way to deal with it. But, we don't know exactly how we do it, but we will try it out and make this experience.


SNELL: Well, earlier we spoke with Borussia Dortmund's Deputy Head of Media Daniel Stolpe and asked if the team had become closer through Tuesday's terrifying ordeal. Stolpe was speaking emotionally with CNN Chris Burns.


DANIEL STOLPE, BORUSSIA DORTMUND DEPUTY HEAD OF MEDIA: I don't want to say anything about what has happened was positive at all. But I think if you go through something like this as a group, a group of TV journalists, a group of football players, whatever. I think it brings you closer together as a group of workers, but also as a group of human beings.

And I think that this -- they will never forget what has happened. And if they meet in 50 years again, they will remember the faces they've seen, the emotions they shared. So, I think it brought them together and -- I don't know. I have a good feeling for the next coming weeks because I think this group really got together even closer. And they want to fight. They want to fight for their injured teammate.

CHRIS BURNS, CNN FMR. FRANKFURT BUREAU CHIEF: How -- what kind of mode if the players in right now. Just to imagine a bomb going off in this incredible pressure, pressure already. They're face in quarter final and that happens. What kind of mood are they in at this point?

STOLPE: Unbelievable mix of emotions. I mean you must -- first of all you must imagine there has been a bomb attack on the team bus. And team captain Marcel Schmelzer said it quite right yesterday after the match, the assault the attack had not been on the bus. It had been on the human beings inside of this bus, 30 or 40 people, football players, staff members, coaches.

So, I think this is something we can't imagine and we don't want to imagine if it had happened to us. And then your bus or people come to you and tell you next day you have to do your work. Yes.

BURNS: So, but still you went ahead with this match and they lost 3-2 against A.S. Monaco.

[02:50:04] And now, they're going to face another match on Saturday with Frankfurt and then next week again with A.S. Monaco. Are they in a psychological state to continue fighting right now?

STOLPE: No. And yet they have to be. And yes, they did fantastic job yesterday. So, losing against Monaco only 2-3, I think it's a great, great performance of the guys. And very solid yesterday, it didn't matter.

BURNS: Let me go back up little on the decision to play last night. Who made that decision? Because it does seem that the coach says, no, they were not in a state. They couldn't do it. That decision was made very quickly on the very night of the attack. Was it too soon, too hasty, who made that decision?

STOLPE: I don't know. Like, yesterday in the morning, Hans-Joachim Watzke the CEO talked to the team for 10, 15, 20 minutes and there was unanimous decision to play. And the coach --

BURNS: Unanimous by who?

STOLPE: By all the players, by the coaching staff, et cetera. So, he was talking to the players. He was in the room on the training ground.

BURNS: So, they all agreed let's play?

STOLPE: There was nobody who said we cannot play, we will not play.


SNELL: A difficult week indeed for all concerned with Dortmund.

All right. Well, other story we're following up. Basketball fans, all start for the start of this weekend NBA Playoffs. They just, who will be the Season Most Valuable Player? There are maybe two contenders but there could only be one winner.


SNELL: Hi, there. The NBA Playoffs are now set and the pick of the opening round match up clearly out west with the Houston Rockets taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder. The showdown between the two leading candidates will be league's most valuable player award, namely Russel Westbrook and James Harden.

Westbrook was the first player since Oscar Robertson 55 years ago to average triple double. That's a double figure in three top offensive categories points, assist and rebounds. The Thunder guard has 42 triple double games beating Robertson's mark.

The Hall of Famer on hand in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night as the Thunder honored Westbrook's accomplishment. And Robertson himself wasn't shy about who he thought should take home the MVP trophy.


OSCAR ROBERTSON, NBA HALL OF FAMER: -- for joining us tonight. When Russell was on this journey, I felt I had to be here. I think of what he has done has been historic in nature. His play with passion and pride and it really -- it's outstanding what he's done the way he did it. You people should really be proud of him for his accomplishments. And I say congratulations again. Hail, one more thing to say, MVP.


SNELL: Well, we shall see because many would say a case could be for Harden as well. He was second in the leagues in scoring leaving assist and hove 22 triple doubles which it be weren't Westbrook would have been the most in the league. There four decades would you believe and Harden showing his ready for the challenge ahead.

[02:55:12] Wednesday night the Rockets guard had 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists as Houston beat Minnesota for their 55th victory of the campaign.

On the first few months after tennis season have been well and truly dominated by one man. I'm talking about Roger Federer sealing at 18th grand slam title of the Australian Open. The Swiss is on break right now. So, total most to Europe the Clay Court Season beginning in the glamourous Monte Carlo is our latest Rolex minute.

The Monte Carlo Rolex Masters, the most glamourous event on the tennis calendar begins Sunday, April the 16th, heralding the start of the Clay Court Season. While the transition to the slower service can be tricky for some, Rafael Nadal has no such trouble. The king of Clay is looking to extend his reign in the principality and claim an unprecedented 10th title.

And also on Sunday, the six hours of Selverstone kick starts the World Endurance Championship, sports car racing pre-eminent series. Thirty one entries from 18 teams spread over prototype and G.D. process will battle over nine races on three continents providing 72 hours of race action.

The main jewel in the Lemon (ph) prototype category is between reigning champion's booth. He returns with the rebound driver line up and Toyota who will be aiming to add consistency and reliability to their power advantage.


[03:00:08] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ahead head this hour it nicknamed the "Mother Of All Bombs" the U.S. military drop it's most powerful non --