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At Least 11 Israelis Injured, One Serious in Tel Aviv Bus BlastsAired December 28, 2000 - 6:46 a.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LINDA STOUFFER, CNN ANCHOR: We're following a developing story right now: explosions in Tel Aviv, Israel. Few details on this, but we are developing as much as we can.
And for the very latest, we want to go straight to Jerusalem. Matthew Chance is there.
Matthew, what can you tell us?
MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Linda.
Well, as you say, the details are very sketchy still in the very fast-moving developments here in Israel. What we do know, though, is the police say that a series of explosions have hit a bus on a main commuter route in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv. Police have told CNN that at least 11 people are known to have been injured. At least one of them in a very serious condition, we're told.
There are not, though, at this stage any reports of any deaths. Israel Radio is quoting emergency workers on the scene, saying that most of the injuries incurred by those 11 people that we know of at this stage are apparently burn injuries. The radio reports also that the police are speculating at this stage, I suppose, that the device that caused the explosion may have been some kind of a pipe bomb. But I have to say, again, that that's just speculation at this stage until more details come out.
What we do know, though, is that bomb disposal experts from the Israeli security forces are scouring the scene, looking into the bus to try and find if there is any further danger, if there is any further devices on board that bus or close by to that bus.
Well, as the details come in about that emerging picture of what's happened in Tel Aviv, I can tell you that for months now the Israeli security forces have been on a state of high alert. Throughout the violence and the confrontation on the streets between the Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters in recent months there have at times been a number of incidents involving bus -- bombing, rather, or explosions near buses. There was one in October in Jerusalem where two people were killed. Another one last month in the central Israeli town of Hadera.
In the past, radical Palestinian Islamic groups have said they were responsible for carrying out attacks like these. I have to stress, though, at this stage no one has yet issued a claim of responsibles -- responsibility, said they carried out this apparent attack on a bus in Tel Aviv.
Back to you, Linda.
STOUFFER: Matthew, I know you're familiar with the area there. It's a little bit hard for us to tell from the pictures. I'm hoping you can explain to us a little bit more about that area. You mentioned it was a main commuter route. Was it a crowded place at the time these explosions happened?
CHANCE: Well, it's not clear whether it was crowded or not. I can tell you, though, that the explosion took place about a little more than an hour ago now. That's at about 12:40 local time. They took place on a bus, we're told, by the police -- number 51 bus, which services one of the main routes in Tel Aviv, from central Tel Aviv to a suburb called Petah Tiqwa. That's a suburb which is very populated.
It's not clear at this stage, though, how may people were on that bus, how busy the environment was around that bus when these series of explosions took place. We'll bring you those details, though, as and when we get them. But as I say, at the moment, the picture is still very sketchy. The details are just emerging minute-by-minute -- Linda.
STOUFFER: And, Matthew, as we continue to get all the details on that, any immediate thoughts on how all of this might play into Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's political troubles within Israel and the larger peace process?
CHANCE: Well, certainly, I mean, attacks like these in the past do tend to reinforce the kind of Israeli suspicion or the Israeli concern that any peace agreement with Palestinians -- any peace agreement may leave them exposed and insecure. I don't think it's appropriate at this moment, though, to make any link between this explosion and the state of the peace process.
On that peace process, of course, the latest we've heard from officials here in Jerusalem is that Ehud Barak, the Israeli prime minister, will not now be attending the expected summit in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh with the Palestinian Authority president, Yasser Arafat. That summit, of course, was to be hosted by the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak. Now the two leaders, Mr. Barak and President Mubarak, have agreed to talk again on the telephone following the meeting with Mr. Arafat and Mr. Mubarak, which is taking place today -- which has already taken place -- and talk again about how they can time what future possibilities there are for more peace talks.
But, you know, this breakdown or this failure for these -- this summit to take place, along with this apparent attack in Tel Aviv, does tend to reinforce the idea that peace in the Middle East is very much under threat -- Linda.
STOUFFER: Absolutely. Matthew Chance, with the latest from Jerusalem, thank you very much for that.
And just to give you a quick recap, three explosions today in Tel Aviv, Israel in and around a bus. Eleven people injured. One of those people said to be...
STOUFFER: ... injured seriously.
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