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 Sunday, March 30, 2003



Civilian Casualty Update

British soldiers and a child hurt in the Iraq market bombing

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LATEST Almost 85 percent of the British soldiers killed so far in Iraq have died in accidents or "friendly fire." Troops killed in helicopter accidents, pilots shot down by U.S. missiles, tank crews shot dead by their own side -- that has been the almost daily litany from the frontline. Just four of the 23 British war dead in Iraq so far were killed in combat

The toll of US military personnel killed in Iraq has risen to 34, as leading US newspapers said President George W. Bush faced a "torrent of questions" and was "on the defensive" about his war plan.The Pentagon announced that the remains of a Marine earlier listed as missing had been found.US officials said four US soldiers died when the driver of a taxi detonated a bomb near the central Iraqi city of Najaf.In addition, 15 were listed as missing, 104 wounded in action and seven taken as prisoners of war since the US-led war to oust Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein began on March 20.

A bomber posing as a taxi driver summoned American troops for help, then blew up his vehicle Saturday, killing himself and four soldiers and opening a new chapter of carnage in the war for Iraq Iraq's vice president said such attacks would be "routine military policy" in Iraq — and, he suggested chillingly, in the United States. Saddam Hussein gave the bomber a posthumous promotion to colonel and two medals — Al-Rafidin, or The Two Rivers, and the Mother of All Battles, state TV reported. "We will use any means to kill our enemy in our land and we will follow the enemy into its land," Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said at a Baghdad news conference. "This is just the beginning. You'll hear more pleasant news later."

The Pentagon has no plans to allow media access to a U.S. Air Force base receiving the bodies of American soldiers killed in Iraq, a Defense Department spokeswoman said on Friday. The remains of 18 soldiers killed in the Iraq campaign and six who died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan have arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware since Tuesday. Each time, a military chaplain has uttered prayers and an honor guard has carried flag-draped aluminum coffins to waiting vehicles.

After a rapid advance of more than 500kilometres from Kuwait to within 80kilometres of Baghdad, it's been reported that coalition land forces are exhausted, some are surviving on one meal ration a day and fuel supplies are low.Unnamed Pentagon officials say the pause will last for four to six days to allow the convoys of food, water and fuel to reach the 100,000 or so troops now ringing Baghdad's southern edges. The flaw in the coalition's military plan that has forced the pause was an expectation that the Shi'ite-dominated south of Iraq would rise up in support of the war effort, creating an unstoppable military and propaganda momentum that would carry the troops to Baghdad to meet the elite Republican Guard in Saddam Hussein's stronghold.

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said Sunday that Washington would stay on course with its military plan to oust Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, despite a growing chorus of criticism of the US-led invasion of Iraq. He called the current US military strategy to overthrow the Iraqi regime "excellent." "All the second guessers seem to be people who haven't seen the plan."Rumsfeld cautioned however that the going might get even tougher for US and British forces in Iraq

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld repeatedly rejected advice from Pentagon planners that substantially more troops and armor would be needed to fight a war in Iraq New Yorker Magazine reported. Rumsfeld insisted at least six times in the run-up to the conflict that the proposed number of ground troops be sharply reduced and got his way. Rumsfeld had overruled advice from war commander Gen. Tommy Franks to delay the invasion until troops denied access through Turkey could be brought in by another route and miscalculated the level of Iraqi resistance. "They've got no resources. He was so focused on proving his point -- that the Iraqis were going to fall apart," the article, by veteran journalist Seymour Hersh, cited an unnamed former high-level intelligence official as saying.

Iraqi Information Minister Mohammad Saeed al-Sahhaf Saturday said a total of 140 Iraqis were killed and 351 others injured by U.S.-British air strikes on the country since Friday.He said in a daily briefing in the capital, Baghdad, that 68 "were martyred only in Baghdad since last night's bombing, and 107 injured."He added that 28 were killed and 48 others wounded in Anbar, three dead and 22 injured in Babel, six dead and 52 wounded in Karbala and 35 killed and 122 others wounded in Najaf.

Iraq has rejected a new United Nations Security Council resolution renewing the seven-year-old oil-for-food program under UN secretary-general Kofi Annan. Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Said al-Sahaf told a press conference that only Iraq can administer the program

Several US cruise missiles fired towards Iraq have landed in Saudi Arabia, a senior US commander said."In the case of Saudi Arabia, we did have a number of T-LAM missiles that were reported down in their territory," Major-General Victor Renuart told a news conference in Qatar. Major-General Renuart said the problem had occured shortly after the launch phase of the missiles. _______________________________________________________________________________________________________


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LATEST If North Korea were about to launch a missile at Japan, it would not be unconstitutional to make a pre-emptive attack on the launch site, Japan's defense chief said Sunday.

Four gunmen on motorcycles ambushed a US special forces patrol in southern Afghanistan, killing two Americans and wounding a third, US and Afghan officials said.Three Afghan soldiers were also wounded.

US B-52 bombers and helicopters pounded areas in southern Afghanistan on Saturday local time, where fugitives of the ousted Taliban regime were believed to be hiding, an Afghan official said. Hundreds of Afghan and US forces have rushed to Sangisak, about 70 kilometres north of Kandahar, to flush out the Taliban, Kandahar police spokesman Safiullah said.

North Korea has vowed to strengthen its military defences, saying it would fend off what it called the "miserable fate" that had befallen Iraq. A commentary in the state-run newspaper of the ruling Korean Workers' Party, Rodong Sinmun, said that what was happening in Iraq was a result of concession and compromise

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