BAGHDAD (Reuters) -
The moaning of Aisha Ahmed, eight, fills the hospital's emergency ward.
One of hundreds of child victims
in the 15-day-old U.S.-led war in Iraq, she lost one eye and her face
and body are peppered with wounds from what must have been a storm
"Mummy! I want my mummy.
Where is my mummy?" Aisha kept muttering. Yet neither the nurse
nor the neighbor trying to comfort her dared to answer.
Her four-year-old brother
Mohammad died and her mother and other brother were in critical condition
undergoing surgery for head and chest injuries. Her father and two
sisters were all badly injured and in another hospital.
A neighbor said he saw missiles
crash into Radwaniyeh, a remote area near Baghdad's airport on Wednesday
To their misfortune, they
live in an area that -- apart from their farm -- has a presidential
palace complex and military positions. A total of 12 children and six
adults were struck.
U.S. war headquarters in Qatar
said that a farm at Radwaniyeh doubled as a military "command
and control facility." Washington says it seeks to minimize civilian
casualties in its war to oust President Saddam Hussein.
Aisha was with her cousin
and neighbors playing in the garden during a lull in the fighting when
a missile struck, the neighbor said.
"We heard the planes
and then the big explosion. We saw these houses in flames, and ran
to rescue them and get them out from under the rubble. We did not expect
them to hit civilians during a lull," the neighbor said.
MANY VICTIMS CHILDREN
Aisha lay with dry blood on
her clothes and her moans turned to screams when nurses tried to lift
her to the operating theater for head surgery.
Doctor Ahmed Abdel Amir said
children were bound to make up a large number of casualties because
they are such a big proportion of Iraq's 26 million population.
Another child, Mohammad Kazem,
seven, lay in the next bed with serum tubes strapped to him. He was
hit by shrapnel in the stomach when a missile crashed near his home
west of Baghdad.
"He is so terrified now.
He trembles when he hears explosions. I keep on trying to calm him
down. I keep telling him that nothing will happen to him any more.
"Whenever he hears the
thud of explosions he grabs me. I stay hugging him and patting him
until the bombings stop," said his mother, Madiha Mohsen Ali,
"He does not sleep or
eat. The only question he keeps asking is: 'mummy when will this banging
Such scenes have become part
of daily life in Iraq since the U.S.-led war started with a fierce
air attack and a ground invasion on March 20.
Since then, U.S. planes have
flown thousands of sorties, destroying Iraq's military buildings, infrastructure
and ministries and sometimes civilian homes.
Most said the war, in which
Iraq said 1,250 civilians were killed and 5,000 wounded, was particularly
hard on children.
Mohammad al-Jammal, six, was
also screaming from his wounds. He too had been standing outside his
house when a missile struck, killing two people and sending shrapnel
into his stomach, opening it to the intestines.
He lay with his father and
mother reading Koranic prayers for him. They said he would be all right
because "God is looking after him."
Mothers at the hospital compare
notes on their children's traumas. Many speak of their terrified children
crying relentlessly, trembling when they hear the bombings. They say
their children refuse to eat or sleep.
They say their children are
bewildered and depressed. There is little for them to do to get through
the day and many fear the night when the bombardment normally resumes.
THE IRAQI BODY COUNT DATABASE