DAY THIRTEEN - UPDATE
Razek al-Kazem al-Khafaji's family was in the line of fire
Injured mother and child
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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.
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For 13 days now, British artillery and U.S. helicopters have pounded Iraqi tanks, mortar positions and government targets inside Basra. Ask residents who is in charge of Basra today and the universal answer is:Baath Party.The residents did confirm what British commanders in the area have been saying since the siege began, that the army and militia fighters inside have interspersed with the civilian population, making it difficult for the British to pinpoint their positions.The British believe the Iraqi fighters inside Basra are trying to draw them into a battle in the city's teeming streets, which could result in significant casualties
Iraqi villagers have seized a British armoured vehicle and anti-tank weapons dropped into the north of the country.Speculation is mounting the equipment could belong to elite British units such as the SAS.Villagers near the northern city of Mosul recovered the heavily-armoured four-wheel drive vehicle, which had its machine-gun still intact.Pictures of the Land Rover being driven by Iraqis have been shown on Iraqi television and on the Qatar-based satellite broadcaster al-Jazeera.The reported seizure could mean that equipment was being dropped to them into northern Iraq. Land Rovers can be carried in the twin-rotor Chinook helicopters.
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 which 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 Ray- theon, the world's largest producer of "smart" armaments.The identification of the missile as American is an embarrassing blow to Washington and London as they fight 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 which killed at least 14 people last Wednesday – were caused by ageing Iraqi anti-aircraft missiles.
With troops locked in a bloody and unpredictable struggle in Iraq, leaders from "new" Europe are distancing themselves from the war that the US claims they back.Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minster, began his political retreat before a shot was fired.Denmark, had to scale back its small military deployment. The Netherlands was sympathetic, has ruled out military involvement.Jose Maria Aznar od Spain, which has dispatched 9,000 troops to Iraq for humanitarian work, is under intense pressure from domestic opposition.Surveys suggest only 20 per cent of Poles think their troops should be involved in fighting. Vaclav Klaus of Czech Republic, has warned that using force to impose democracy on Iraq is a notion "from another universe" and sets a dangerous precedent. Stipe Mesic, the President of Croatia , denounced the war as "illegitimate" because it lacked UN backing. Slovenia has also rejected the idea that it backs the conflict. Yet these nuances have been brushed aside by a Pentagon in its efforts to present the image of broad support.
An American soldier has been rescued by U.S. forces in Iraq. The rescued soldier was identified as Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch, 19, of Palestine, W.Va., who had been listed as MIA after an ambush in Nasiriyah on March 23.
President Saddam Hussein in a written statement on Tuesday urged Iraqis to wage a holy war against invaders, as the United States made clear that only an unconditional Iraqi surrender would end the war.
Pentagon leaders have launched a vehement defence of their war plan in Iraq and the leadership of US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.Unnamed high-ranking military officials have repeatedly raised questions about resources and tactics in Iraq, and have criticised Donald Rumsfeld for "micromanaging" the war plan instead of listening to the advice of his uniformed subordinates.