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March 28, 2003
 
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(AP Photo)
Arab TV Says Missile Kills 50 in Baghdad
More Explosions Shake Baghdad; Arab TV Reports More Than 50 Killed When Missile Hits Market

The Associated Press


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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 market.

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 afternoon.

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 on God."

As the imam spoke, a crowd of fervent worshippers interrupted his sermon with shouts of: "God is great!"


photo credit and caption:
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)

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
 
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