Saturday, May 03, 2008

American Missile strike on Sadr City hospital
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Badger links to AFP
A US air strike damaged a hospital in the Iraqi capital's violent Shiite stronghold of Sadr City on Saturday, injuring 20 people, as American forces claimed to have killed 14 militiamen.

The US military said it carried out the strike in Sadr City, a bastion of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, where US troops in separate confrontations killed at least 14 militiamen since Friday.
"I can confirm that we conducted a strike in Sadr City this morning," a US military spokesman told AFP. "The targets were known criminal elements. Battle damage assessment is currently ongoing."
However, witnesses and an AFP reporter at the scene said the main Al-Sadr hospital had been badly damaged and a fleet of ambulances were destroyed.
Just outside the hospital, a shack which appeared to be the target was reduced to a pile of rubble.

The military said it destroyed a "criminal element command and control centre" at approximately 10 am (0700 GMT).
"Intelligence reports indicate the command and control centre was used by criminal elements to plan and coordinate attacks against Iraqi security and coalition forces and innocent Iraqi citizens."
Hospital staff said at least 20 people wounded in the air raid were taken to the same hospital which had its glass windows shattered, and medical and electrical equipment damaged.

Doctors and hospital staff were livid they had been hit.
"They (the Americans) will say it was a weapons cache (they hit)," said the head of Baghdad's health department, Dr Ali Bistan. "But, in fact they want to destroy the infrastructure of the country."
He charged that the attack was aimed at preventing doctors and medicines reaching the hospital which is located inside an area of increased clashes between American troops and militiamen.
The corridors of the hospital were littered with glass splinters, twisted metal and hanging electrical wiring. Partitions in wards had collapsed.
The huge concrete blocks forming a protective wall against explosions had collapsed on parked vehicles, including up to 17 ambulances, disabling the emergency response teams.
Nurse Zahra was recovering from the shock of the attack.
"I was very afraid. I thought I would die. Everyone was scared. They ran in all directions," she told AFP. "Now I am more sad than frightened because hospital facilities have been destroyed."
Hospital guard Alaa Mohamed, 26, was at a side entrance when the bombs exploded. "There were five missiles that exploded outside the parking lot," he said.
An AFP reporter saw three huge craters, each with a diameter of six metres (yards), created by the impact of the explosions. Youngsters climbed on top of the rubble and looked for anyone trapped underneath.
Residents said the shack that appeared to be the main target of the air strike was a transit point for Muslim pilgrims.
The AFP reporter witnessed several US helicopters sweeping above Sadr City amid a steady barrage of gunfire.
The strike came as the US military said it killed at least 14 Shiite fighters since Friday in a series of clashes around Sadr City.
The firefights which began at 7:20 am (0420 GMT) on Friday and have continued sporadically saw US forces use air support and tanks as they clashed with militants in the impoverished district of some two million people.
On Friday, an M1A1 Abrams tanks engaged "criminals" with one round from its main gun after Iraqi army soldiers reported being attacked by small arms fire from a house, the military said.
"Three criminals were killed in the engagements," the military said.
Later Friday, a US warplane also dropped a bomb and killed two others. Nine other militants were killed in other exchanges, some of them early on Saturday.
US forces have been clashing with Shiite militiamen since March 25 in Sadr City. Hundreds of people have since been killed, with followers of Sadr accusing the military of killing civilians.
But US military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Steven Stover said the militants were using "innocent civilians as shields for their activity."

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