- The Washington Times - Friday, March 21, 2003

KUWAIT CITY Iraq launched several missiles at Kuwait yesterday, setting sirens wailing through the capital city and jarring nerves in the already tense emirate.
Patriot anti-missile batteries intercepted two of the missiles, U.S. and Kuwaiti officials said. A third missile exploded just outside the mess tent where soldiers from the 7th Infantry Regiment were eating lunch.
No injuries or evidence of chemical or biological warheads were reported.
As a precaution, U.S. forces donned chemical gear and gas masks.
The number of attacks and the kinds of missiles fired could not be determined. By early evening, Kuwait time, at least three attacks were confirmed.
In Kuwait City, residents flocked to bomb shelters. Offices and shops were closed for the day.
The Iraqi salvos followed bombing in Baghdad early yesterday morning, a strike that targeted dictator Saddam Hussein, his two sons and top military leaders.
Iraq is forbidden by U.N. Security Council resolutions to own missiles with ranges exceeding 93 miles. Last month, Iraq reluctantly began to destroy the al Samoud 2 missiles it acknowledged having.
Scud missiles, with ranges of hundreds of miles and used in the 1991 Gulf war to hit Israel and Saudi Arabia, are prohibited.
With memories of the August 1990 invasion by Iraqi forces stirred by the onset of war, Kuwait City had a jittery, somewhat subdued quality yesterday.
Scores of Kuwaitis left their offices for home yesterday morning when the war's first air-raid sirens sounded.
The streets were largely quiet by lunchtime.
Traffic on the city's wide highways was light except near police checkpoints, which were established hastily throughout Kuwait.
At Kuwait Magic, a 3-year-old shopping mall just south of Kuwait City, customers fled at the first warnings, and shopkeepers reluctantly let tearful employees leave after the second burst of sirens.
"This mall is safer than your own homes," said Adnan Al-Salah, who owns the glamorous shopping mall and many of the shops inside it. "I know. I built it."
Nonetheless, two dozen employees, mostly Filipinas in pink or mauve uniforms and male laborers from Southeast Asia, held towels over their faces and raced for the minibuses to take them to their neighborhoods. Several of the women were sobbing, and many worried about their children.
Mr. Al-Salah, who has sent his wife and children to the United States until the war is over, said Kuwait is safe, in part because of the presence of U.S. troops.
But he urged the government to do more to acknowledge the tension and danger that many Kuwaitis and foreign workers feel.
"Usually they send out short [text] messages to Kuwaitis," he said, flipping open a tiny cell phone and computer combination. "But nothing today, when it counts."
Kuwait International Airport's arrivals deck was deserted yesterday, while the departure floor was a chaotic tangle of Indian, Pakistani, Philippine and Egyptian guest workers scrambling to get home.
Passengers thronged ticket counters with bulging suitcases as they battled to secure boarding passes.
"We've been here for 10 hours," said Sharif Sayed, an Egyptian jeweler who had sent his family home two days earlier. "The Egyptian Embassy is sending about half of us home, but we'll come back. And when we do, there will be plenty of business for us. The Gulf ladies love their diamonds."

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