Monday, April 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

US plane lands at Baghdad airport
‘Friendly fire’ kills 18 in Kurdish convoy  * Russian diplomats hurt in attack

Baghdad Airport, April 6
A US C-130 military transporter touched down at Baghdad airport today, the first plane to land since US forces seized the facility early on Friday, a US military source said.

''At least one aircraft has landed at the airport,'' said a source in the US 3rd Infantry Division's aviation brigade, who was at the airport.

He said the C-130 Hercules transporter landed at around 8 a.m. local time (9 a.m. IST), about an hour after dark, on the western, military side of the international airport.

It was not immediately clear whether the plane was carrying a load or was testing the landing strip which had been slightly damaged by US bombing during Friday's assault on what was formerly known as Saddam International Airport.

Meanwhile, 18 Kurdish fighters were killed and 44 wounded today when US aircraft mistakenly bombed a Kurdish convoy in northern Iraq that was accompanied by US special forces, a Kurdish official said.

Among the seriously wounded was Wajih Barzani (33), the head of special forces of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and brother of party leader Massoud Barzani, PDK external relations official Hoshvar Zebari said.

A report from Arbil quoting hospital sources said four US troops were killed in the mistaken bombing.

Earlier, a convoy of Russian diplomats, including the Russian Ambassador to Baghdad, Mr Vladimir Titokreko, was attacked as they were leaving the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, for the Syrian capital, Damascus, resulting in injuries to some of them.

Urgent measures were taken to render assistance to the wounded in the attack and to bring the group of diplomats outside Iraq without any hindrance, Itar-Tass news agency reported quoting the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Mr Vladimir Titokreko was in the convoy, the minister said.

President Vladimir Putin was immediately informed of the attack on Russian diplomats in Iraq, presidential press secretary Alexel Gromoy said.

Mr Putin ordered the ministry to take all measures to render aid to the injured and evacuate the diplomatic convoy outside Iraq.

The Russian Foreign Ministry immediately summoned the US and Iraqi Ambassadors in Moscow and “demanded in a tough form that the Iraqi and American sides should take all necessary measures to ensure the security of Russian citizens as well as to investigate the incident and to punish those guilty,” the agency said. Agencies

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