BAGHDAD, Iraq March 29 —
Wailing and sobbing, black-clad mourners gathered Saturday for a
funeral procession amid the wreckage of a Baghdad marketplace where
Iraqi officials say dozens of civilians died in a coalition
Elsewhere, Iraq's Information Ministry building was damaged but
not destroyed in a pre-dawn U.S. missile attack. Planes were heard
over the capital, drawing anti-aircraft fire, and the blazes started
by authorities to conceal targets seemed to be burning furiously,
sending darker-than-usual clouds over the city on an otherwise clear
Despite the fires and intermittent explosions, Saturday saw the
heaviest traffic on the streets of Baghdad since the war broke out.
Many shops were open in the commercial districts and thousands of
residents were on the streets.
At the Al-Nasr market in the working-class district of al-Shoala,
crowds of mourners wailed amid bloodstains and piles of wreckage.
Blood-soaked children's slippers sat on the street not far from a
crater blasted into the ground.
At the scene of the Friday bombing, women in black chadors were
sobbing outside homes where some of the victims lived. Men cried and
hugged each other as a funeral procession passed through the
Down the road, residents gathered at a Shiite Muslim mosque,
crowded around seven wooden coffins draped in blankets. Some of the
men stood silently. Others sobbed into trembling hands. In the
background, women cried, "Oh God! Oh God!"
Information Minister Mohammed Saeed Sahhaf had said earlier that
58 people were killed and many others wounded in the explosion at
the market Friday evening. There were conflicting reports, however,
on the number of casualties.
Haqi Ismail Razouq, director of al-Nour Hospital, where the dead
and injured were taken, put the death toll at 30 and the number of
injured at 47; surgeon Issa Ali Ilwan said 47 were killed and 50
injured. Witnesses said they counted as many as 50 bodies.
There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy.
Witnesses said the bombing took place around 6 p.m., when the
market was at its busiest. They said they saw an aircraft flying
high overhead just before the blast.
"Why do they make mistakes like these if they have the
technology?" asked Abdel-Hadi Adai, who said he lost his 27-year-old
brother-in-law. "There are no military installations anywhere near
The U.S. Central Command in Qatar, which has denied that
coalition forces target civilian neighborhoods, said it was looking
into the incident.
Elsewhere Saturday, the Information Ministry remained standing
after a Tomahawk cruise missile attack that the U.S. military
command said was aimed at the ministry building. But many of the
satellite dishes on the roof used by foreign TV crews were
destroyed, and glass from broken windows was strewn in the
Information Ministry officials said the ministry's 10th floor was
completely gutted. The floor, they said, housed the ministry's
Most of the ministry's satellite dishes have been destroyed and
there was no sign of the two anti-aircraft guns that had been placed
on the roof. Several foreign TV journalists were able to use their
dishes on a lower roof of the building that seems to have sustained
little damage. But most continued to work at a parking area opposite
the building where they had moved for fear of attacks on the
Sahhaf told reporters on Saturday that 68 people were killed and
107 wounded in Baghdad alone between Friday evening and Saturday
morning. In addition, 74 people were killed and 244 wounded across
the rest of the country, he said.
"These are cowardly air raids," he told Lebanon's Al-Hayat LBC
In one incident, Sahhaf said coalition forces fired a cluster
bomb at an ambulance carrying a wounded man to hospital. The wounded
man, the driver and a nurse were killed.
"We thank the superpower (America) and we congratulate this hated
(Tony) Blair. Now they are bombing ambulances," he said. "We are
encouraging several groups, lawyers, professors of international law
in order to present a lawsuit against those war criminals."
Iraqi state television, meanwhile, 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.
|Relatives wait to bury their
dead at the Mohammed Sakran cemetery outside Baghdad Saturday
March 29, 2003 a day after Iraqi officials say dozens of
civilians died in a coalition bombing. (AP Photo/Jerome
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