Cruise missiles stray into Turkey, S. Arabia -- Detail Story
WASHINGTON, March 29: Five US sea-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles have
strayed into Saudi Arabia, and a couple more into Turkey, since the Iraq
invasion began , prompting a suspension of missile launches along most lanes
through their airspace, a US defence official said on Saturday.
The Saudi government on Saturday lodged a protest with the United States
over the incidents and later said Washington had "expressed regret".
"I think at some point they'll reopen," the US official said, adding that
it was not expected to have an adverse effect on US air operations. "There are
options to go other ways," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"It's just in the first couple of days when you're firing lots of them
you need lots of different avenues. But now, when you're only firing a few, you
can probably fire them from one particular location," he said.
The official said he did not know whether the cruise missile flights were
suspended at the request of the Saudi or Turkish government, or whether US
forces decided on their own to hold off until they had determined what caused
the missiles to go astray.
The missiles that went astray in Saudi Arabia and Turkey did not explode,
the official said.
The missiles have 450-kg warheads but are not armed until they reach
their pre-programmed target. Fired from warships and submarines, they have a
range of more than 1,600kms.
At US Central Command headquarters in Qatar, Major General Victor Renuart
said a review of launch procedures was under way and some routes had been put
"Basically we have a situation where the Saudis said can you see if you
can figure out what caused (missiles to land on Saudi territory), and we do not
want to endanger the people of Saudi Arabia or any country where they might
transit," he told reporters. "We've actually coordinated with the Saudis to
hold on a couple of routes where they could be close to any civilian
BOMBING PROBE: The US military is nearing a conclusion that US airstrikes
may have caused explosions that tore through a Baghdad neighbourhood on
Wednesday, killing 14 civilians and wounding 30 others, a defence official said
on Saturday. "We're pretty close to making a call," said the official. "It
looks like it was possible."
The incident was the first of two that have brought home the dangers to
civilians of the US bombings that have struck government buildings and
leadership compounds in the Iraqi capital.
Fourteen civilians were killed and some 30 more were wounded on Wednesday
from two explosions that rocked the working-class "city of the people" in
northern Baghdad, a cluster of residential homes, workshops and car mechanics'
The US military also is investigating a second incident, on Friday night,
in which the An Nasser marketplace in the Al Shula district was rocked by
explosions that left 55 dead. -AFP