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Iraq: Friday Air Raids Killed Dozens of Civilians

Iraqi official says at least 55 civilians killed in bomb dropped on Baghdad marketplace as air siege on the capital city enters its second night.


Specialists load laser-guided bombs onto fighter jets on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk.

An explosion in a Baghdad marketplace killed a reported 55 Iraqi civilians and injured 47 as the United States continued a day of heavy bombing on the capital.

Arab television and wire services reported that the explosion occurred during an air raid Friday evening. An Iraqi doctor told reporters that at least 55 Iraqis were killed. The Iraqi Information Minister said the bombing claimed 50, with many more injured.

The explosion was one of many that has rocked Baghdad since Thursday night. Bombing raids and Tomahawk missile attacks have targeted communication centers and command and control facilities, said U.S. Central Command on Friday. Coalition planes were not hit by artillery fire directed at them from the outskirts of the city.

The raids on the command center were the first time U.S. planes dropped 4,600-pound so-called, "bunker-busting" bombs.

Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf said that at least seven civilians had died in the raids, and 92 injured. Not including the Friday evening bombing attack, Iraq claims that close to 400 civilians have been killed since the start of the war eight days ago.

U.N. approves new oil-for-food program

In order to alleviate the strain on Iraq's civilians, the United Nations Security Council on Friday gave Kofi Annan the power to begin sending up to $10 billion (9.2 billion euro) in humanitarian aid and food into Iraq as soon as conditions allowed.

UN Sicherheitsrat beschlißt Öl für Lebensmittel

United Nations Security Council members raise their hands at the United Nations headquarters in New York Friday, March 28, 2003 as they unanimously adopt a resolution to restart a humanitarian food program for Iraq once the U.S.-led war winds down. (AP Photo/Osamu Honda)

The money comes from Iraqi oil revenue as part of the 7-year-old oil-for-food program. Annan suspended the program, which allows Iraq to use its oil revenue to purchase humanitarian supplies, at the beginning of the war. About 60 percent of Iraqi's 26 million people are solely dependent on the rations from the program.

Friday's decision was initially opposed by Syria and Russia, which disappoved of the use of U.S. and British forces to bring the aid to Iraqi civilians. The two countries were wary of any resolution that would indirectly approve of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

But Germany, the head of the planning commiitte responsible for aid, managed to forge a compromise at the last minute, according to reports.

"This was a good day for the United Nations, a good day for
the Security Council and I hope a good day for the suffering
people of Iraq," said Germany's U.N ambassador Gunter Pleuger.

In addition to the oil-for-food aid, the U.N. has issued a plea for an additional $2.1 billion to cover the looming refugee crisis and any other emergency scenarios that could arise out of the Iraq war.

Defense Secretary criticizes Syria, Iran for aiding Iraq

Both the White House and the U.S. Defense Department dismissed speculation that they had been caught off-guard by the level of Iraqi resistance encountered so far and criticism that they had maybe used the wrong strategy. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters that the war's "outcome is not in doubt."

USA Soldaten machen Pause in Umm Kasr

US Army soldiers take a break as the British supply ship Sir Galahad unloads at the port of Umm Qasr, southern Iraq, Friday, March 28, 2003. The Arabic words on the wall behind the soldiers are "If you have been forced to lose your chance" (in red at center) which is a quote by Saddam Hussein. And words at left in blue, "Mr. President Saddam Hussein (God protect him).(AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

"We’re one week into this and it seems to me it’s a bit early to write history," he told a press conference Friday evening.

Air Force Gen. Richard Myers said the war plan by General Tommy Franks was a "sound plan."

Rumsfeld also told reporters that the U.S. had intelligence that Syria was shipping military equipment, including night goggles, across their common border with Iraq. He said the Bush administration would hold the Syrian government "accountable" for what he considered a hostile act.

The Defense Secretary had a simliar message for the government of Iran in regards to Iranian fighters reportedly waging war against coalition troops within Iraq.

Compiled by DW-WORLD staff with information from wires

Information on troop movements, victims and damage estimates are based on information from parties involved in the war and cannot be independently verified.

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