BAGHDAD, Iraq March 28 —
Explosions shook Baghdad on Friday, and Arab television stations
reported more than 50 people were killed when a missile struck a
Gray smoke drifted across the capital from the U.S.-led bombings
and from fires started by Iraqi authorities to conceal targets.
Al-Arabiya television said at least 52 people died at the market
in a residential area, while Al-Jazeera television put the death
toll at 55. The reports could not be independently confirmed.
Al-Jazeera showed injured men and children in hospital beds with
bandages on their heads and faces, including a man who cried in pain
as a doctor removed shrapnel from his legs. "I was hit... A missile
landed near our house," said the man, who was not identified.
One boy had a blood-soaked bandage on his nose and cried softly
as a man and woman sobbed.
The U.S. Central Command in Qatar said it was looking into the
reports. Iraqi officials earlier blamed U.S. forces for explosions
at a residential market that killed 14 people on Wednesday. The
Pentagon denied targeting the neighborhood.
Iraqi state television said three Iraqis had been arrested for
spying for the United States, alleging they were assigned to inspect
areas of Baghdad that had been attacked to determine if they needed
to be hit again.
The report identified the men as Ibrahim Abdel Qader, Ghareeb
Ahmed Hamadeh and Hussein Shahed. Qader was quoted as saying he was
given about two pounds of TNT from "foreigners Americans," and
Shahed said he was recruited by an American he identified as "Gen.
Mike" who was from the CIA.
Explosions in the capital late Thursday night and early Friday
were aimed at disrupting communications between Saddam Hussein's
leadership and his military, U.S. officials said. Airstrikes also
targeted positions of the Republican Guard Saddam's best-trained,
best-equipped fighters in a ring outside the city.
Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf said the
overnight airstrikes had killed seven people in Baghdad and wounded
92. The Arab television network Al-Jazeera reported eight people
were killed at Baath party headquarters in bombing Friday
The airstrikes hit at or near the Information and Planning
ministries and at telephone installations "as if government
buildings are empty of human beings and there are no civilians in
them," Sahhaf said.
The attack gutted a seven-story telephone exchange building in an
area called Al-Alwya.
Husein Moeini, telecommunications director of Baghdad, said he
believed people were buried beneath the rubble, but journalists who
arrived at the scene less than three hours after it was hit did not
see a rescue operation under way.
At a second telephone exchange, Al-Rasheed, the 10-story building
was largely intact, except for some broken windows. Next to it,
however, was a huge crater where Iraqi officials said a missile
apparently lodged without exploding.
Muslim cleric Abdel-Ghafour Al-Quisi, with a Kalashnikov rifle
resting against the pulpit, delivered a fiery sermon on state TV on
Friday, the Muslim holy day.
"May God install terror in the hearts of our enemies, and set
against them invisible soldiers," he said in a sermon delivered at
one of Baghdad's largest mosques.
"Their dead are in hell because they have launched aggression
against a Muslim nation," he said, referring to felled coalition
soldiers. "We are fighting guided by our faith. And we only depend
As the imam spoke, a crowd of fervent worshippers interrupted his
sermon with shouts of: "God is great!"
|Iraqis look at the crater left
by a bomb that landed in a busy market in the Al Shula'a
district of West Baghdad Friday March 28, 2003, killing at
least 50, according to local hospital sources. The U.S.
Central Command in Qatar said it was looking into the matter.
(AP Photo/Jerome Delay)|
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