— By Hassan Hafidh
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Two explosions hit the southern outskirts of
Baghdad at dawn on Tuesday after a night of bombardment targeting
the heart of the Iraqi capital and Republican Guard positions on its
Five huge blasts hit the center of the city around midnight,
including a strike against one of President Saddam Hussein's
sprawling compounds on the banks of the River Tigris.
"A big, big, big cloud of smoke is coming out of the compound.
Maybe they are using bigger bombs than before," Reuters reporter
Samia Nakhoul said after the midnight raid.
The complex, used by Saddam, his son Qusay and aides, has been
hit several times in the last 48 hours and was also struck by
missiles in the opening days of the U.S. campaign to oust Iraq's
ruler for the last quarter-century.
U.S. forces have targeted key government buildings, military and
presidential sites in the city of over five million people in their
13-day-old war. Raids on Monday also struck Baghdad's Information
Ministry and at least two telephone exchanges.
The dawn strike, launched by planes which could be heard from the
ground, came without warning. No air sirens sounded.
It followed a brief lull in a concentrated bombardment which the
United States and Britain have unleashed against Baghdad over the
last three days.
While the aerial assault has raged, U.S.-led land troops say they
have approached to within 50 miles of Baghdad, close to Republican
Guards defending the capital.
FLAMES AND FEAR
Around midnight, flames could be seen rising into the night from
a blast which rocked the central Palestine Hotel.
"It is very frightening. There is a lot of panic. I can hear
people shouting and screaming in the street below" the hotel,
Anti-aircraft fire was heard just before the explosions. Earlier,
U.S. or British warplanes had screamed low over the center of the
Another explosion came from the headquarters of the Iraqi Olympic
Committee, headed by Saddam's eldest son Uday.
"It is on fire. It's a huge fire," Reuters correspondent Khaled
Yacoub Oweis said.
The building stands next to the Martyrs' Memorial, a stunning
monument in blue marble of two half domes facing each other, built
in memory of the thousands of Iraqi soldiers who died in the
1980-1988 war with Iran.
For a few hours after midnight, correspondent Nadim Ladki said
booms could be heard from the outskirts of the city every three to
four minutes. Some shook buildings in the center of Baghdad, several
An aircraft dropped a bomb or missile on central Baghdad at
around 6 p.m. EST Monday, shaking the capital. Anti-aircraft fire
occasionally rattled out into the night sky.
|A pre-strike and post-strike
photograph of Baghdad state-controlled TV Studio and
broadcasting facility shown during a briefing in Qatar, March
30, 2003. An intense artillery barrage opened up on Baghdad's
southern outskirts on March 31 as warplanes from the U.S.-led
invasion force screamed low over the Iraqi capital and
anti-aircraft fire crackled in the sky. "The artillery fire is
suddenly very intense. We can hear it coming from the south.
It's unusual," said Reuters correspondent Samia Nakhoul. Photo
by Reuters (Handout)|
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