- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2003

BAGHDAD Two cruise missiles struck a residential area in Baghdad yesterday, killing 14 persons, Iraqi defense officials said the worst single reported instance of civilian deaths since the U.S. bombing campaign began a week ago.
Associated Press Television News video showed a large crater in the street near a smoldering building. Bodies wrapped in plastic sheeting were in the back of a pickup truck.
Flames shot into the air above several burning shops, mixing with smoke from fuel fires lit by Iraqis to obscure targets for U.S. and British warplanes. Streets flooded after pipes ruptured, while street lights toppled, power lines were downed and trees uprooted.
Later in the day, a series of explosions, becoming louder and more frequent, were audible across the city. Rain began to fall, combining with smoke and a sandstorm to give the city a dark, apocalyptic look.
U.S. Central Command said there was no proof U.S. missiles were involved in the civilian deaths, although they did acknowledge using "precision-guided weapons" to target Iraqi missiles and launchers "placed within a civilian residential area."
During a Pentagon briefing, Maj. Gen. Stanley McChrystal said U.S. forces did not specifically aim at the neighborhood, "nor were any bombs and missiles fired" there. But he could not say whether the missiles that hit the neighborhood were Iraqi weapons or errant U.S. missiles.
In Baghdad, the civilian deaths prompted little public mourning. Instead, Iraqis shook their fists in hostility; others pledged allegiance to President Saddam Hussein.
"Oh, Saddam, we sacrifice our souls and blood to you," chanted residents of apartments damaged by shrapnel.
Some took to the streets near a gutted market of about 30 restaurants and auto-repair shops.
Others hung out their apartment windows, flashing V-for-victory signs in support.
"This is barbarian," shouted Adnan Saleh Barseem as hundreds of angry Iraqis milled around craters created by two missiles that also injured about 30 people in the Al-Shaab neighborhood.
Cars were tossed by the blasts. Some were turned upside down and others had wheels blown off. A total of 17 cars were destroyed, their charred metal skeletons left on the street, said Lt. Col. Hamad Abdullah, head of Iraqi civil defense in the area.
Men lugged water buckets to douse the burning cars, while women in black chadors grabbed the hands of children and ran from the scene.
The reports of civilian deaths prompted a quick response from U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who said he was "increasingly concerned by humanitarian casualties in this conflict."
Iraq's state-run television returned to the airwaves yesterday despite allied bombs and missiles that knocked out its signal for hours at a time. U.S. authorities had hoped to disable the television signal, ending its use as a propaganda tool.
Instead, a cleric appeared on television to urge Shi'ite and Sunni Muslims to unite in the face of U.S. aggression.
The attacks targeted not only Iraqi television but also government communications and satellite links at several sites in the capital, U.S. military officials said. Smoke was seen next to the Information Ministry and the state television building.
There was no trace of Al-Shabab television, the station owned by Saddam Hussein's son, Uday.
That station is normally transmitted from the state television building.

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