April 2, 2003
Children Killed and Maimed in Cluster Bomb Attack on
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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"
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 ú and the
explosion at another Baghdad market that killed at least 14 people
last Wednesday ú 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
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 ú and by implication Friday's killings ú 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
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
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
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.