Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Thursday, March 27, 2003

Iraq Says Over 350 Civilians Killed, 4000 Injured in War

Iraqi Health Minister Umid Medhat Mubarak said Thursday that more than 4000 Iraqi civilians were injured and 350 others killed since the US-led war on Iraq started last Thursday, while saying that Iraqi hospitals have enough medical supplies to treat those wounded.


Iraq said on Thursday that more than 350 Iraqi civilians had been killed since the United States and Britain invaded one week ago, with women, children and elderly people making up most of the victims.

Health Minister Umeed Midhat Mubarak accused US and British forces of using cluster bombs and other weapons to frighten civilians and maximize damage.

"Most of these martyrs and victims are children, women and elderly people who cannot afford to protect themselves," Mubarak said, speaking in English at a Baghdad news conference.

"So you see that those aggressors, the Americans and the English and their allies, are targeting civilians in Iraq, regardless of their age," Mubarak said.

He added that in all more than 4,000 civilians had been killed and injured in the war, which Washington and London launched on March 20 to topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

Fear of civilian casualties helped motivate large anti-war protests around the world, and has been heavily publicized by Arab-language media.

Mubarak said that in Baghdad alone, 36 people had been killed over the last 24 hours by air strikes.

On Wednesday, two explosions devastated a busy Baghdad residential street, killing as many as 15 people. Iraqi witnesses blamed the blasts on a twin US missile attack.

In Washington, US defense officials said an errant missile may have been responsible for the blasts, but added that it was also possible that a misfired Iraqi anti-aircraft missile or anti-aircraft artillery could be to blame.

They said the US military had reviewed its targets in the Baghdad area for Wednesday and concluded that it had not dropped any weapons close to the Baghdad street that was hit.

Mubarak repeated Iraqi accusations that US-led forces were using cluster bombs and depleted uranium weapons in the war.

"They try to do their best to terrorize our people by using a certain kind of bomb that causes panic among people," Mubarak said. "The aggressors think that the people of Iraq will be easily frightened. They forget the Iraqi spirit."

A British air force spokesman denied that cluster bombs were being used in the air campaign.

"We have only used precision munitions. We've not been using cluster bombs," he told CNN.

US military officials have accused Iraq of putting civilians at risk by positioning missiles in residential areas and storing war materiel in schools, hospitals and other civilian buildings.

"These allegations do not merit a response," Mubarak said. "It's a fact that we have nothing in our hospitals. They are only doing this to try and prevent us from providing medical care to our people as part of their aggression."

Source: agencies

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