Children Killed by Cluster Bombs
The lndependent
April 2, 2003

Children Killed and Maimed in Cluster Bomb Attack on Town
by Robert Fisk in Baghdad and Justin Huggler
At least 11 civilians, nine of them children, were killed in Hilla in central Iraq yesterday, according to reporters in the town who said they appeared to be the victims of bombing.

Reporters from the Reuters news agency said they counted the bodies of 11 civilians and two Iraqi fighters in the Babylon suburb, 50 miles south of Baghdad. Nine of the dead were children, one a baby. Hospital workers said as many as 33 civilians were killed.

Terrifying film of women and children later emerged after Reuters and the Associated Press were permitted by the Iraqi authorities to take their cameras into the town. Their pictures - the first by Western news agencies from the Iraqi side of the battlefront - showed babies cut in half and children with amputation wounds, apparently caused by American shellfire and cluster bombs.

Much of the videotape was too terrible to show on television and the agencies' Baghdad editors felt able to send only a few minutes of a 21-minute tape that included a father holding out pieces of his baby and screaming "cowards, cowards'' into the camera. Two lorryloads of bodies, including women in flowered dresses, could be seen outside the Hilla hospital.

Dr Nazem el-Adali, who was trained in Edinburgh, said almost all the patients were victims of cluster bombs dropped around Hella and in the neighboring village of Mazarak. One woman, Alia Mukhtaff, is seen lying wounded on a bed; she lost six of her children and her husband in the attacks. Another man is seen with an arm missing, and a second man, Majeed Djelil, whose wife and two of his children were killed, can be seen sitting next to his third and surviving child, whose foot is missing. The mortuary of the hospital, a butcher's shop of chopped up corpses, is seen briefly in the tape.
Iraqi officials have been insisting for 48 hours that the Americans have used cluster bombs on civilians in the region but this is the first time that evidence supporting these claims has come from Western news agencies. Most of the wounded said they were hit by American munitions and one man described how an American vehicle fired a shell into his family home. "I could see an American flag,'' he says.

One of the editors in Baghdad, a European, when asked why he would not send the full videotape to London, wound the pictures on to two mutilated corpses of babies. "How could we ever send this?'' he said.

Further south, there was heavy fire around the town of Diwaniyah, about 80 miles south-east of Baghdad. It was the second day of close combat between American forces and Iraqi troops, after fighting in the town of Hindiyah on Monday. It appeared that US troops were looking to take on some Iraqi forces after initially advancing largely unopposed through vast tracts of empty desert but deliberately avoiding population centers.

According to reports from Diwaniyah, US Marines deliberately provoked a firefight by moving into an area where they had come under fire before. The marines came under heavy fire from rocket-propelled grenades and machine-guns.

Iraqi Republican Guard troops and other fighters fired on the advancing marines from fortified bunkers and positions in buildings and behind vehicles. Corporal Patrick Irish of the US Marines said: "They were shooting from buildings, from dug-out positions, from holes, from everything. They would jump out to shoot. They were behind buses. You name it, they were there."

Although the Iraqis were outgunned by the heavily armed marines, the firefight went on for about 10 hours, according to Lieutenant-Colonel B P McCoy of the US Marines. They used 155mm artillery to destroy Iraqi tanks and mortar positions. "We hammered them pretty hard," said Lt-Col McCoy. At least 75 Iraqis were killed in fighting on Diwaniyah's outskirts and at least 44 soldiers, including some Republican Guard officers, were taken prisoner, Lt-Col McCoy said. There was no report of American casualties.

North-east of Diwaniyah there was heavy bombing yesterday near Kut to clear the way for ground forces, according to the US military. American marines also claim to have "secured" an air base at Qalat Sukkar, south-east of Kut, which US forces want to use as a staging ground.

Overnight, planes bombed the area around Hindiyah. Ominously, there were also reports of missiles streaking towards the Shia holy city of Kerbala, where any damage to the shrines could set the Shia Muslim world alight.

The Iraqi military said its troops were fighting US forces inside Nasiriyah and on the outskirts of the city, and had inflicted heavy casualties. "The blood of the enemy is flowing profusely," a military spokesman said at a press briefing, who claimed that fighting was still going on as he spoke. He claimed the forces fighting in and around Nasiriyah included Republican Guards, regular Iraqi army soldiers, volunteers from across the Arab world, and ordinary Iraqi citizens.

US Marines fought their way across the city's bridges last Tuesday but did not take control of the city. Since then, Iraqi forces have made several ambushes in the area.
The Iraqi spokesman also said US forces launched an attack on the Shia holy city of Najaf yesterday, and claimed fighters inside the city had forced them to retreat after suffering heavy losses.


The Proof: Marketplace Deaths Were Caused by a US Missile
by Cahal Milmo
An American missile, identified from the remains of its serial number, was pinpointed yesterday as the cause of the explosion at a Baghdad market on Friday night that killed at least 62 Iraqis.
The codes on the foot-long shrapnel shard, seen by the Independent correspondent Robert Fisk at the scene of the bombing in the Shu'ale district, came from a weapon manufactured in Texas by Raytheon, the world's biggest producer of "smart" armaments.

The identification of the missile as American is an embarrassing blow to Washington and London as they try to match their promises of minimal civilian casualties with the reality of precision bombing.

Both governments have suggested the Shu'ale bombing and the explosion at another Baghdad market that killed at least 14 people last Wednesday were caused by ageing Iraqi anti-aircraft missiles. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said yesterday it was "increasingly probable" the first explosion was down to the Iraqis and Peter Hain, the Welsh Secretary, suggested on BBC's Newsnight last night that President Saddam sacked his head of air defenses because they were not working properly.
But investigations by The Independent show that the missile - thought to be either a Harm (High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile) device, or a Paveway laser-guided bomb - was sold by Raytheon to the procurement arm of the US Navy. The American military has confirmed that a navy EA-6B "Prowler" jet, based on the USS Kittyhawk, was in action over the Iraqi capital on Friday and fired at least one Harm missile to protect two American fighters from a surface-to-air missile battery.

The Pentagon and Raytheon, which last year had sales of $16.8bn (10.6bn), declined to comment on the serial number evidence last night. A US Defense Department spokeswoman said: "Our investigations are continuing. We cannot comment on serial numbers which may or may not have been found at the scene."

An official Washington source went further, claiming that the shrapnel could have been planted at the scene by the Iraqi regime.

On Saturday, Downing Street disclosed intelligence that linked the Wednesday attack and by implication Friday's killings on Iraqi missiles being fired without radar guidance and falling back to earth. The Prime Minister's spokesman said: "A large number of surface-to-air missiles have been malfunctioning and many have failed to hit their targets and have fallen back on to Baghdad. We are not saying definitively that these explosions were caused by Iraqi missiles but people should approach this with due skepticism."

The Anglo-American claims were undermined by the series of 25 digits and letters on the piece of fuselage shown to Mr Fisk by an elderly resident of Shu'ale who lived 100 yards from the site of the 6ft crater made by the explosion.

The numbers on the fragment - retrieved from the scene and not shown to the Iraqi authorities - read: "30003-704ASB7492". The letter "B" was partially obscured by scratches and may be an "H". It was followed by a second code: "MFR 96214 09."

An online database of suppliers maintained by the Defense Logistics Information Service, part of the Department of Defense, showed that the reference MFR 96214 was the identification or "cage" number of a Raytheon plant in the city of McKinney, Texas.

The 30003 reference refers to the Naval Air Systems Command, the procurement agency responsible for furnishing the US Navy's air force with its weaponry.

The Pentagon refused to disclose which weapon was designated by the remaining letters and numbers, although defense experts said the information could be found within seconds from the Nato database of all items of military hardware operated across the Alliance, "from a nuclear bomb to a bath plug", as one put it.

Raytheon, which also produces the Patriot anti-missile system and the Tomahawk cruise missile, lists its Harms and its latest Paveway III laser-guided bombs, marketed with the slogan "One bomb, one target", as among its most accurate weaponry.

The company's sales description for its anti-radar missile says: "Harm was designed with performance and quality in mind. In actual field usage, Harm now demonstrates reliability four times better than specification. No modern weapons arsenal is complete without Harm in its inventory."

Faced with apparent proof that one of its missiles had been less accurate than specification, Raytheon was more coy on the capabilities of its products. A spokeswoman at the company's headquarters in Tucson, Arizona, said: "All questions relating to the use of our products in the field are to be handled by the appropriate military authority."

Defense experts said the damage caused at Shu'ale was consistent with that of Paveway or, more probably, a Harm weapon, which carries a warhead designed to explode into thousands of aluminum fragments and has a range of 80km.

Despite its manufacturer's claims, it also has a record of unreliability when fired at a target which "disappears" if, as the Iraqi forces do, the target's operators switch their radar signal rapidly on and off. Nick Cook, of Jane's Defense Weekly, said: "The problem with Harms is that they can be seduced away from their targets by any sort of curious transmission. They are meant to have corrected that but there have been problems." During the Kosovo conflict four years ago, a farmer and his daughter were badly injured when a missile exploded in their village. A shard of the casing was found near by with a reference very similar to that found in Baghdad: "30003 704AS4829 MFP 96214."
The American navy confirmed that one of its Prowler jets, which is used to jam enemy radar, had been over an unspecified area of Baghdad on Friday night. A pool reporter on the carrier USS Kittyhawk was told that the Prowler squadron had fired its first Harm on Friday evening in response to an air-defense unit that was threatening two F/A-18 Hornet jets. Lieutenant Rob Fluck told the journalist that the crew had not seen where their missile had landed.