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Car Bombing at Police Station in Baghdad

Aired September 2, 2003 - 05:31   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Now back to that breaking news out of Baghdad. Another car bombing, this one at the city's main police station.
Live to Baghdad now and Rym Brahimi -- bring us up to date, Rym.

RYM BRAHIMI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, we've just heard more details from a major, from the police station. He's briefed reporters only a few moments ago, saying it was, indeed, a car bomb that exploded right next to the police station. That said, the building was separated from the car park where the bomb, where the car exploded, by a very thick wall, which prevented, he said, more fatalities, more casualties. It's not clear exactly how many people are wounded, except one seriously injured that the major from the police mentioned.

Now, it happened less, about a couple of hours ago. It's in central, east central Baghdad, and it's on a day when typically there would have been quite a few people in that area because on the first and second of each month, Carol, former police officers go to that police station to collect their salaries and to see if there are any jobs out there for them.

Now, the area has been totally cordoned off. There are a few fire engines still, although much of the smoke that was there initially has begun to die down. There's massive U.S. troop presence, very tight security right now at the scene -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Rym, inside that police station, any Americans?

BRAHIMI: We don't know for the time being. We're still getting details coming in at the moment. We'll update you as soon as we hear from that. But we don't know if there would have been any Americans. What I can tell you, though, Carol, is that a lot of the police stations do have Americans, or at least had Americans until a few weeks ago, because they would sort of protect the police force that was in there and that was sort of basically just getting up and running at that point.

But I will have to get back to you and find out if there were any Americans at that police station in particular -- Carol.

COSTELLO: And we'll appreciate that.

Rym Brahimi reporting live from Baghdad this morning.

Some 60 miles from Baghdad, in Najaf, a huge funeral today for a Shiite cleric killed in the bombing of a holy shrine on Friday. Hundreds of thousands on hand.

To Najaf now and Ben Wedeman -- good morning, Ben. BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, good morning, Carol.

Well, at this moment, there is a massive crowd, hundreds of thousands outside the Imam Ali Mosque. That is one of the most holy Shiite shrines. That is also where that bomb went off last Friday, killing 83 people.

Now, we were on the main road into Najaf this morning watching as just thousands of people went by, chanting their support for the assassinated Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, that leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, one of the main Shiite factions. They were also calling for the death of former members of the Ba'ath Party.

Now, as we, we watched as the coffin went by. That coffin, however, contains no remains. It only contains the wrist watch, the ring and the turban of the assassinated Ayatollah. That is because no one was able to identify any of the remains that were found after that bombing.

Now, just a little while ago, Ahmed Chalabi, the head of the Iraqi National Congress and the rotating head of the coalition appointed Governing Council, had a press conference. And discussing that bombing, he said that he believes that the trail will eventually lead back to Saddam Hussein, the Ba'ath Party and also foreign elements that have entered the country in the last few months -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Ben, are U.S. forces providing any kind of security here or are they remaining scarce?

WEDEMAN: They are definitely scarce, indeed. They're really sticking to the outskirts of the city. With such a large crowd, they've been keen to avoid any friction. Really, the people who have been running this funeral procession are the Iraqi police with the assistance of the local militias and thousands of volunteers who have been brought in to try to keep order. But we've been hearing, for instance, of reports that some news crews have been attacked by the crowd.

But by and large it seems that the security is, at the moment, under control -- court.

COSTELLO: That's good to hear.

Ben Wedeman live from Najaf this morning.


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