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Iraqis Protest American Occupation after Arms Dump Explosion
by Iraqis
Saturday Apr 26th, 2003 1:39 PM
Angry locals pelted US forces with stones, forcing them to retreat as they tried to take some of the wounded to hospital.
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Arms dump explosion kills at least six in Baghdad, provoking angry protests

Sat, Apr 26, 2003

BAGHDAD (AFP) - At least six members of the same family were killed Saturday when a stash of Iraqi arms exploded in Baghdad, provoking angry demonstrations, while US officials blamed the ousted regime of Saddam Hussein.

US troops said an Iraqi fired on a cache of ammunition and weaponry they were holding in a residential neighbourhood, setting off a hail of rockets that flattened a nearby house, burying those inside.

Witnesses described a grisly scene of blood-spattered bodies being pulled from the wreckage. Dozens were reported wounded, including one US soldier, and three other family members were missing. Some witnesses said the death toll could be as high as 14. The incident came ahead of what was supposed to be a week of hope amid efforts to rebuild the devastated Iraqi capital and stirred volatile anti-US feeling in the occupied capital, over two weeks after US tanks first rolled in.

"No, no to America, yes, yes to Islam!" chanted demonstrators from Baghdad's Zaafaraniya district after the blast, carrying banners accusing US troops of negligence for dumping the weapons in a residential neighborhood.

"The Americans are killing Iraqis with the weapons of Saddam Hussein," one banner read.

Angry locals pelted US forces with stones, forcing them to retreat as they tried to take some of the wounded to hospital.

"Someone shot a flare into this disposal site and caused this huge explosion," said US Army Major Frank McClary. "It is sabotage."

US officials at central command in Qatar said in a statement that an attacker had fired "an unknown incendiary device into the cache, causing it to catch fire and explode. The explosion caused the destruction of the cache as well as a nearby building."

It said six bodies were found while another four people, including one US soldier, were wounded. It further blamed the ousted government of Saddam Hussein for the incident.

"The location of the ammunition cache near a civilian population is another example of the former regime's disregard for the safety of Iraqi citizens," it said.

Shaker Mahmoud Nasser, the emergency surgeon at the Rashid military hospital, said: "I have six bodies but I was told that there are between 11 and 14 dead." He added that around 30 were wounded.

"I saw three dead women with my own eyes. One of my friends was killed. They pulled him out of the building covered with blood," said a distraught Ahmed Khilal, 18.

Smoke was pouring into the sky from the site but US troops prevented journalists from approaching. Reporters in the capital heard a series of violent explosions shake the city in mid-morning. Khilal said the houses that were hit were more than one kilometre (half a mile) away from where the US troops had stored the ammunition.

"We saw four rockets go into the air. One came down and totally destroyed three houses," Khilal said. Other witnesses said two adjoining houses had been flattened.

The six dead were all from the family of Khazal Saber, doctors said. The victims were between 20 and 50 years old.

"Does God accept this?" said Thamer, the family's eldest son, weeping inconsolably at the hospital.

"We kept telling the Americans not to store explosives so close by. What happened? Why didn't they listen to us?"

The latest deaths quickly inflamed tensions already high over the chaos in Baghdad. Around 300 people organised an immediate protest near the site of the carnage, crying "No to America, Yes to Islam!"
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by Iraqis Saturday Apr 26th, 2003 1:39 PM
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by Iraqis Saturday Apr 26th, 2003 1:39 PM
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by Iraqis Saturday Apr 26th, 2003 1:39 PM
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by Iraqis Saturday Apr 26th, 2003 1:39 PM
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by Iraqis Saturday Apr 26th, 2003 1:39 PM
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