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 Thursday, April 03, 2003

  Thursday, April 03, 2003


Civilian Casualty Update

Aljazeera English Website is back again at

Massive Fire-power

Baghdad Burning

Children after their home was bombed

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LATEST US aircraft hit a Red Crescent maternity hospital in Baghdad, the city's trade fair, and other civilian buildings today, killing several people and wounding at least 25, hospital sources and a Reuters witness said. The attacks occurred at 9.30am (0630 BST) and caught motorists by surprise as they ventured out during a lull in the bombing. At least five cars were crushed and their drivers burned to death inside, Reuters correspondent Samia Nakhoul said.Patients and at least three doctors and nurses working at the hospital were among those wounded. The missiles obliterated wings of Baghdad's trade fair building, which lies next to a government security office that was apparently missed in the bombings.

The Red Cross has confirmed that dozens of Iraqi people, including women and children, have been killed in a US bombing attack on a town south of Baghdad .Iraqi officials have claimed US helicopters attacked a residential neighbourhood, killing 33 people. At least 280 injured are being treated in Hillah Surgical Hospital, 60 miles south of Baghdad, said Florian Westphal, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross."The dead bodies and the nature of the injuries would suggest that at least some of them are the result of bombing," Mr Westphal said.Iraqi officials say US Apache helicopters attacked a neighbourhood in Hillah. The US Central Command says it is investigating the claim.

Razek Al-Kazem Al-Khafaji, who lost 15 members of his family as his pickup was bombed by a helicopter, throws up his hands as he grieves over his loss in Hilla in the southern province of Babylon

Pope John Paul II called on Christians on Wednesday to maintain hope even though it seemed that God was "abandoning history into the hands of the wicked".Against a backdrop of war in Iraq which the pope has vehemently opposed, the 82-year-old pontiff urged Christians to maintain belief in "God's justice and saving power"."This divine silence is not an absence, as if God were abandoning history into the hands of the wicked.

An Iraqi boy in front of his burning house as a result of a US missile attack.

A broad coalition of anti-war activists, militant lawyers and judges on Wednesday took legal action against Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, charging that his support for the US-led war on Iraq is illegal.The Culture Against the War group, together with the Free Association of Lawyers and two groups called Judges for Democracy and Magistrates for Democracy, filed the complaints before the Supreme Court, the group of militants said.They notably accuse Aznar of breaking Spanish law by involving Spain in a military conflict without authorisation from both houses of parliament and the King, who is head of state.

US troops launched a major two-pronged ground offensive south of Baghdad, destroying a division of elite Republican Guards in a "last push" towards the Iraqi capital. The double headed attack saw US troops passing through a tight strip of desert southwest of Baghdad at Karbala, while Marines crossed the Tigris river to the southeast, crushing the elite Baghdad division of the Republican Guard. "The final push to Baghdad is now on," a senior US Marines officer said Wednesday.

As the coalition forces press on towards Baghdad, military preparations here appear to be low key.There are no checkpoints and no curfews. Baghdad is still an open city. Certainly the Iraqi authorities are exuding an enormous amount of self-confidence. The Iraqi minister of defence said that the Iraqis had learned lessons in the first Gulf War. He also said they had taken measures to have their divisions broken up into small units that could be deeply dug into the city in the event of urban warfare

A hotel in Basra being used as a base by al-Jazeera's team of correspondents in the city was shelled this morning, the Arabic TV news channel has claimed.The Basra Sheraton, whose only guests are al-Jazeera journalists, received four direct hits this morning during a heavy artillery bombardment, according to the Qatar-based broadcaster.No casualties were reported in the incident, but al-Jazeera said it would be writing to the Pentagon again to provide full details of the location of all its journalists and bureaux in Iraq

Iraq's information minister has denied US troops have crossed the Tigris river in their advance on Baghdad. Earlier, a US commander in the Gulf said US troops have destroyed the Baghdad division of the Iraqi Republican Guard near the town of Kut, 170 kilometres south-east of the Iraqi capital "I have detailed information about the situation ... which completely proves that what they allege are illusions," Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf told a news conference. "They lie every day. Therefore what they say or allege about success and advances in Najaf and Karbala are illusions. "They also said they crossed the Tigris, which is another lie. As is what they said about Kut."

"US forces have dropped on Iraq for the first time in combat history" a new version of a cluster bomb that adapts to wind and weather to hit targets more accurately, Central Command said. Six CBU-105 Wind Corrected Munitions Dispensers were dropped by B-52 bombers in central Iraq "to stop an Iraqi tank column from continuing on its route towards coalition troops," a Central Command statement said. It said the CBU-105 features "wind-compensating technology that steers the munitions from a known release point to precise target coordinates while compensating for launch transients, winds aloft, surface winds and adverse weather conditions". Human rights groups have long protested the use of cluster bombs, which they say cause undue risks to civilians.

The lead force of the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division -- had moved to within 25 miles of Baghdad, said CNN's Walter Rodgers, who is embedded with the unit. That report was cleared by 7th Cavalry officials.

A Muslim fundamentalist source claimed Wednesday that Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network captured five coalition troops in Iraq.The source who requested anonymity told United Press International by telephone that the kidnapping of four U.S. troops and a British soldier, took place last Saturday in al-Zubair region of southern Iraq, close to the Kuwaiti border.He said the "kidnapped troops will be equally treated as al-Qaida prisoners held in Guantanamo Bay." He said al-Qaida will soon release a videotape of the captured soldiers and will ask to swap them with al-Qaida suspects being held by the United States.

A British field medical team came to the rescue of a 12-year-old Iraqi boy shot through the stomach after the local hospital could not save him.The youngster had been caught in the crossfire during the taking of Umm Qasr, last week, and although local doctors initially treated him, they could not do enough to repair the damage.The boy was rushed to the Commando Field Surgical Group (CFSG1) of the Commando Logistics Regiment medical squadron, based in the town's port. British surgeons there operated on the boy and he is now recovering on the RFA Argus, which has been converted to a hospital ship.

"Human shields" who arrived here from Iraq in a road convoy early Wednesday denied having come under attack by a US warplane, following Iraqi charges that some of them were hit.

The Turkish Government has agreed to give passage to the US to resupply its forces through Turkey's south-east border with Iraq.The agreement was announced in a joint news conference with visiting US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Turkey's Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul.Speaking in Ankara, Mr Gul said providing supplies to US forces would not require the approval of parliament.

The Los Angeles Times said Wednesday it fired a photographer for altering a front page photo of a British soldier and a group of Iraqi civilians. Photographer Brian Walski acknowledged he had used a computer to combine elements of two photos to improve the composition.Journalism ethics forbid changing the content of news photographs, and it is specifically barred in the newspaper's policy.


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LATEST Up to 600 US-backed Afghan troops continue to battle suspected Taliban fighters in southern Kandahar province bordering Pakistan, a local commander and deputy governor said. "The fighting started around 5:00pm [10:30pm AEST] yesterday when a truck of our police was passing [Qisi village] and came under attack," Kandahar divisional commander Khan Mohammad said.

Israeli troops have detained about 2,000 Palestinian men and boys for questioning, following a raid using tanks, armoured cars, and helicopters on the Tulkarem refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.The raids are linked to the suicide bombing of a cafe in the nearby Israeli town of Netanya last weekend, which injured about 50 people.

A powerful bomb has killed up to 15 people near a wharf in the southern Philippines as passengers were getting off a ferry, police and hospital officials said. Witnesses in the city of Davao, where 22 people were killed by an airport bomb a month ago, said the explosion outside the ferry passenger terminal sprayed the area with blood and caused widespread panic.

The toll from severe acute respiratory syndrome (SAR) rose to at least 78 worldwide Wednesday after China reported 12 more deaths, including nine in the southern province where the disease is believed to have originated. The United States said it would pressure China for more information about the illness now known as SARS. And China said it would allow a World Health Organization team to visit Guangdong province, where the disease was first reported in November but downplayed for months.

Russia is likely to send its navy to the Arabian Sea near the Gulf region where the United States is leading a war against Iraq, which Moscow had fought to avert, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported Wednesday.Russian navy officials had earlier announced that at least two fleets -- the Pacific and the Black Sea -- would stage exercises in the Indian Ocean next month.However there had previously been no mention of the Arabian Sea, which is on the Indian Ocean's northern tip and washes the shores of India, Iran, Oman and Yemen.The newspaper, which has developed a reputation for its good military ties, reported that Black Sea fleet commander Yevgeny Orlov recently came to Moscow to receive instructions over the mission.

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