HILLA (AFP) Reports
of coalition forces killing dozens of Iraqi civilians on Tuesday
stoked growing international unease at the US-led war, already high
after seven women and children were shot dead at a US checkpoint
in central Iraq.
people, including women and children, died and 310 were wounded in
bombing on the outskirts of the farming town of Hilla, 80 kilometres
south of the capital on Tuesday, local hospital director, Murtada Abbas,
He was speaking
at the Hilla hospital where a large number of children lay wounded
under blankets on the floor due to a shortage of beds.
of one family were killed nearby late Monday when their pickup truck
was blown up by a rocket from a US Apache helicopter in the region
of Haidariya near Hilla, the sole survivor of the attack told AFP.
Razak Al Kazem
Al Khafaji, sitting among 15 coffins in the local hospital, said
he lost his wife, six children, his father, his mother, his three
brothers and their wives.
and US air strikes on Baghdad accounted for a further 19 people dead
and more than 100 wounded since Monday evening, Information Minister
Mohammad Said Al Sahhaf said on the 13th day of the US-led war launched
with the declared aim of ousting President Saddam Hussein and disarming
US troops admitted
killing seven women and children when they opened fire Monday on
a civilian vehicle at a military checkpoint manned by the US Army's
3rd Infantry Division at Najaf, 150 kilometres south of Baghdad.
commentators and officials agreed that killing civilians, together
with the continual bombing on Baghdad, were likely to fuel vocal
international opposition to the war and deal a severe blow to the
US-led forces' bid to win the trust of the Iraqi people.
scenes become routine... the political war for Iraq could be lost
even before the military one is won,"
The New York Times warned in an editorial.
government admitted for the first time that Iraqi civilians may see
US-British forces as villains not "liberators."
that for the moment we will be seen as the villains. We knew that
from the reaction before the conflict started," Home Secretary
David Blunkett told BBC television late Monday.
the European Commission called the checkpoint killings "a horrible
and tragic incident... It is not an isolated incident. Too many civilians
have already lost their lives in this war.
US Navy Lieutenant
Commander Charles Owens, speaking at operational headquarters in
Qatar, said US troops opened fire "as a last resort" after
the civilian vehicle failed to stop at a military post despite "repeated
warning shots" fired by US troops. Four people in the vehicle
Post quoted US Army 3rd Division Captain Ronny Johnson as shouting
over the radio to his men after the shooting: "You just (expletive)
killed a family because you didn't fire a warning shot soon enough."
A US military
investigation has been opened.
Washington, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said US President
George W. Bush "regretted" the deaths of Iraqi civilians
but "recognises that most innocents have been lost in this
war at the hands of Saddam Hussein and his henchmen."