- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 26, 2003

BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 26 (UPI) — Fifteen Iraqis were killed and 30 others wounded in morning coalition bombardment that targeted a residential neighborhood in Baghdad, Arab satellite television reported.

Al-Jazeera TV, the Qatar-based network, aired footage of the shelling that reportedly killed 15 civilians and wounded 30 others as well as inflicted heavy material damage. It showed a number of houses and cars destroyed in the bombardment that set fire in the area.

Al-Jazeera said the shelling was either caused by two missiles that landed on a crowded market area or by U.S.-British warplanes.

Angry Baghdad residents, including children, were seen removing a number of burned and mutilated bodies while ambulances rushed to the area to evacuate the wounded. Firemen were also trying to extinguish fires in cars and houses.

According to NPR reporter Anne Garrels, the crowd brought out a severed hand and a can with brains in it and were shaking them at the crowd, "basically saying, 'This is your liberation?' … 'This is what you call democracy?'"

Outraged residents, looking at a big crater, shouted "God is Great" and "With our soul, with our blood we serve you, Saddam," Al-Jazeera said.

Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf told reporters in Baghdad the coalition forces had started a "new episode in the air campaign" using "cluster bombs" that were dropped in Baghdad and many other areas.

"They are shelling civilian neighborhoods and killing innocent people. This is the reality," he said.

Al-Sahhaf said he did not have the exact figures for casualties in the residential bombing but urged journalists to tour Baghdad.

"There are many victims," he said. "Go ask the people, they are killing civilians and those evil villains are refusing to engage in a real war, but we will engage them."

A senior U.S. military official, however, said no U.S. missiles had been fired at or near the vicinity of the Shahab neighborhood in northern Baghdad since the start of the war.

Iraqi Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan appeared briefly on Iraqi TV in a first public appearance since the overnight massive shelling of Baghdad.

Earlier Wednesday, coalition cruise missiles and bombs hit the station and key communication facilities, U.S. Central Command in Qatar said.

"Not long before daybreak … (the) coalition … struck Iraq's main television station as well as a key telecommunication vault … damaging (Iraq's) command and control capability," a spokesman for U.S. Central Command in Qatar told United Press International.

Iraqi TV was back on the air later Wednesday with its regularly scheduled programming, according to a British Broadcast Corp. reporter in Baghdad.

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