Sunday, March 30, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Suicide bomber kills 5 US troops
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

Kuwait City, March 29
The US-led coalition forces received a severe setback on the 10th day of the war today when five US soldiers were killed in a car bomb attack in southern Iraq while in another development the allies paused their ground troops’ movement for four to six days because of a host of factors.

Officials here said the car bomb attack was the first successful suicide bombing targeted at the US troops in the war yet. The incident took place when a taxi driver stopped his vehicle, filled with explosives, at a highway checkpoint near Najaf city, some 130 km from Baghdad, and waved for help. The car exploded when the soldiers approached it.

The allies today ordered a pause on their ground advance towards Baghdad for operational and tactical reasons. They were faced with acute shortages of basic supplies such as food, water and fuel. Their supply lines are long and the nearest land base in Kuwait from where the logistic supplies are made at is at least 200 km away from the coalition troops.

Besides, the weather office has predicted powerful sandstorms in the region in the next 48 hours which would inevitably impair the allies’ military operations, both on the ground and from the air.

Some 130,000 additional US troops are expected to be inducted and deployed in Iraq within a week’s time. This clearly means that the coalition forces’ “Operation Iraqi Freedom” is going to last much much longer than expected initially.

A proof of this is that the coalition forces are still bogged down in southern Iraq, apart from a small area in northern Iraq where they opened up a second front two days ago in a bid to encircle Baghdad from different directions.

Officials said fierce fighting was already raging in southern Iraq cities of Basra, Najaf and Nasiriya and was expected to get more intense and savage in the coming days.

The US war strategists are well aware that their military operations will not make much headway till they tackle the formidable threat posed by Saddam Hussein-loyalist irregular forces such as para-military and militia like Saddam fidayeen.

As part of this strategy, the US Army’s 101st Airborne Division, which had today reached just about 80 kms from Baghdad before the ground forces paused their operation, concentrated on the elite Republican Guard in the past 24 hours. In their heliborne assault, the Division caused extensive attrition on the Medina Division of the Republican Guard, destroying their fuel depot, a communication tower, four tanks and six armoured personnel carriers.

The 80,000-strong Republican Guard and the 15,000-member Special Republican Guard are going to be the ultimate test for the coalition forces because the Iraqi ground forces have been reduced to one-third of their pre-1991 war size. The Iraqi Army now has 4.3 lakh soldiers and is cushioned by four lakh-strong paramilitary forces.

The Republican Guard, with its six divisions, is deployed on the outskirts of Baghdad. On the other hand, the Special Republican Guard, with its members hand-picked from Mr Saddam Hussein’s al-Bu Nasir tribe, is deployed within Baghdad.

Meanwhile, an AFP report from Baghdad said the city came under fresh bombardment at 7.35 p.m. (IST 1005 p.m.) on Saturday, setting off a series of explosion and prompting anti-aircraft fire.

Intense air attacks had struck the Iraqi capital and its southern rim lust after 1.00 p.m. (IST 3.30 p.m.) as anti-aircraft defenses boomed out, on the 10th day of the US-led war on the country.


Iraqi missile hits Kuwaiti building, 2 injured
Tribune News Service

Kuwait City, March 29
A low-flying Iraqi missile landed here early today, injuring two persons but rattled up the top brass of Kuwaitis and coalition forces as Baghdad demonstrated its military capabilities on the 10th day of the war.

The missile was not carrying any chemical or biological payload. The missile hit a small pier jutting into the sea about 1.45 am local time close to the 24-hour Souq Sharq shopping mall in the city center, barely two km away from the Emir’s palace, officials said.

This is the 16th missile attack by the Iraqis on Kuwait and the first time when it has actually landed here and not intercepted by the US Patriot missile batteries.

A Kuwaiti man had a leg broken while an Egyptian suffered a broken shoulder in the attack.

The Patriot counter-missile could not swing into action and no alert siren was sounded in the city because the low-flying intrusing missile evaded radars.

The missile caused a huge explosion and unleashed a big plume of smoke.

Preliminary reports suggest that the missile was a Chinese-made Silkworm cruise-type weapon fired from southern Iraq.

Officials said the missile did not appear to have been a Scud or any other Iraqi long-range ballistic missile. It apparently flew on a low trajectory similar to that of a Chinese Silkworm missile or an American Tomahawk Cruise missile.

Fragments of the missile had Arabic and Chinese writings. Prior to this, the closest Iraqi missile attack on Kuwait took place on March 27 when the intruding missile was intercepted and destroyed mid-air by a Patriot missile just before it nearly landed on the city.




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