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Over 60 People Dead After US Bombs Impoverished Iraqi Neighborhood in Hilla: We Talk to the AFP Reporter Who Saw Cluster Bomblets There

April 03, 2003
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The London Independent is reporting that over 60 people, mostly civilians, have now died since the US bombed an impoverished Iraqi neighborhood in the town of Hilla, south of Baghdad. Hundreds of people are wounded.

The London Guardian reports unedited TV footage from the Babylon hospital showed horrifically injured bodies heaped into pick-up trucks. Relatives of the dead accompanied them for burial. Bed after bed of injured women and children were pictured along with large pools of blood on the floor of the hospital.

An Edinburgh-trained doctor at the hospital Nazim al-Adali, told the Guardian: "All of these are due to the American bombing to the civilian homes. He said there were not any army vehicles or tanks in the area.

And Robert Fisk writes in today’s Independent:

“The wounds are vicious and deep, a rash of scarlet spots on the back and thighs or face, the shards of shrapnel from the cluster bombs buried an inch or more in the flesh. The wards of the Hillah teaching hospital are proof that something illegal–something quite outside the Geneva Conventions–occurred in the villages around the city once known as Babylon.

“The wailing children, the young women with breast and leg wounds, the 10 patients upon whom doctors had to perform brain surgery to remove metal from their heads, talk of the days and nights when the explosives fell "like grapes" from the sky."

Agence France Press correspondent Nayla Razzouk reported seeing cluster bomblets all over the neighborhood, but the Pentagon denied using cluster bombs on Hillah. However, the Pentagon has just admitted U.S. forces are using cluster bombs elsewhere in Iraq.

Amnesty International yesterday condemned the Hilla bombing and U.S. use of cluster bombs. The human rights group warned, "The use of cluster bombs in an attack on a civilian area of al-Hilla constitutes an indiscriminate attack and a grave violation of international humanitarian law."

We are joined now by Agence France Press reporter Nayla Razzouk.

  • Nayla Razzouk, reporter with Agence France Press in Baghdad.

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