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News ::
Diary from Baghdad, April 3. Colonial terrorism (english)
04 Apr 2003
Modified: 02:23:04 PM
Two doctors from Belgium are now in Baghdad--Dr. Colette Moulaert and Dr. Geert Van Moorter. They both work with Medical Aid for the Third World and have been in combat situations in the past.

Diary from Baghdad, April 3, 8pm
Dr. Geert Van Moorter through satellite telephone

About the horrors of war, 100 km south of Baghdad
Bert de Belder
?I have two awful stories to tell?, Geert immediately starts when I get him on the line. ?Today we drove to Hilla, a small town near Babylon that was heavily bombed yesterday. One poor district was hit by 20 to 25 bombs. The hospital of Hilla received in the next half an hour 150 seriously injured patients. Dr. Mahmoud Al-Mukhtar said that the wounds were caused by clusterbombs. These are bombs that explode into many small bombs that again explode individually and cause enormous damage. Clusterbombs are banned by the International Laws on War, but Bush completely disregards these! In the hospital I have seen very many abrading situations. A family of eleven persons, of whom six are dead? A father who is left with one child; his wife and two sons are dead? Small children with amputated limbs??
?My second story is even more horrible?, warns Geert. ?About a bus with civilians that was fired upon. Not the one in Najaf, which reached the news everywhere, but a case that according to me has not yet been covered by western media. Three days ago, In Al Sqifal, near Hilla, a passenger bus was fired upon from an American checkpoint, with ghastly results. According to witnesses the bus stopped on time and had, on orders of the American Military, turned back. Dr. Saad El-Fadoui, a 52 years old surgeon who still has studied in Scotland, was immediately on the place of incident from the hospital in Hilla. When he told me what he had seen there, he again became very emotional, three days after it had happened. ?The bodies were al carbonized, terribly mutilated, torn into pieces, he sighs. ?In and around the bus I saw dismembered heads, brains and intestines,?.? One wonders what a criminal weapon of massdestruction could have caused these horrors. Nobody had heard the sound of an explosion; on the bodies no traces of shrapnel were found. A journalist spoke of a heat-weapon with liquid cupper or something like that?. Can the Americans be really that cruel? Dr. Saad El-Fadoui asked us repeatedly to do everything to help stop this horrible war of aggression.
Geert understands me poorly when I say something, the line is not always clear. ?We are momentarily without electricity?, he explains. ?Large blocks in Baghdad are without electricity, last night the bombardment was very severe. Colette (Geert?s college-doctor Dr. Collete Moulaert) saw from her hotel room, just behind the mosque in this neighborhood, two enormous fireballs coming down. I think that these are containerbombs of about 7-8 tons each that cause enormous vibrations. ?I am shivering of the cold?, Collete said, but this was the vibration caused by the bomb explosion.
?You should not belief everything what CNN and BBC are showing, Geert informs us. ?That we were able to travel today up to Hilla (near Babylon, south of Kerbala) with a large group ?human shields?, 100 km south-west of Baghdad, proves convincingly that the Iraqi capital is not being completely surrounded and besieged. Along the way we hardly saw Iraqi troop movements. On the 100 km route we didn?t pass any Iraqi checkpoint, and hardly saw signs of war. There were groups of scattered houses, trees, even children playing with paper kites?. One time we were told to take a side road because a colon of 20 to 30 Iraqi tanks had to pass. This again disproves the charges that the Iraqi army is using civilians as shield for military operations: our civilian vehicle was first sent safely to another road before the Iraqi army passed. On our way back the Americans and British were bombing the area. For our safety we had to take a new another road, but this was also nearly hit by a bomb, followed by a tick plume of smoke. This was frightening for a while, because we were not safely in our hotel, but in the open air.
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Another story of note. (english)
04 Apr 2003
'I saw the heads of my two little girls come off'

April 2 2003, 11:38 AM

An Iraqi mother in a van fired on by US soldiers says she saw her two young daughters decapitated in the incident that also killed her son and eight other members of her family.

The children's father, who was also in the van, said US soldiers fired on them as they fled towards a checkpoint because they thought a leaflet dropped by US helicopters told them to "be safe", and they believed that meant getting out of their village to Karbala.

Bakhat Hassan - who lost his daughters, aged two and five, his three-year-old son, his parents, two older brothers, their wives and two nieces aged 12 and 15, in the incident - said US soldiers at an earlier checkpoint had waved them through.

As they approached another checkpoint 40km south of Karbala, they waved again at the American soldiers.

"We were thinking these Americans want us to be safe," Hassan said through an Army translator at a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital set up at a vast Army support camp near Najaf.

The soldiers didn't wave back. They fired.

"I saw the heads of my two little girls come off," Hassan's heavily pregnant wife, Lamea, 36, said numbly.

She repeated herself in a flat, even voice: "My girls - I watched their heads come off their bodies. My son is dead."

US officials originally gave the death toll from the incident as seven, but reporters at the scene placed it at 10. And Bakhat Hassan terrible toll was 11 members of his family.

Hassan's father died at the Army hospital later.

US officials said the soldiers at an Army checkpoint who opened fire were following orders not to let vehicles approach checkpoints.

On Saturday, a suicide bomber had killed four US soldiers outside Najaf.

Details emerging from interviews with survivors of yesterday's incident tell a distressing tale of a family fleeing towards what they thought would be safety, tragically misunderstanding instructions.

Hassan's father, in his 60s, wore his best clothes for the trip through the American lines: a pinstriped suit.

"To look American," Hassan said.

An Army report written last night cited "a miscommunication with civilians" as the cause of the incident.

Hassan, his wife and another of his brothers are in intensive care at the MASH unit.

Another brother, sister-in-law and a seven-year-old child were released to bury the dead.

The Shi'ite family of 17 was packed into a 1974 Land Rover, so crowded that Bakhat, 35, was outside on the rear bumper hanging on to the back door.

Everyone else was piled on one another's laps in three sets of seats.

They were fleeing their farm town southeast of Karbala, where US attack helicopters had fired missiles and rockets the day before.

Helicopters also had dropped leaflets on the town: a drawing of a family sitting at a table eating and smiling with a message written in Arabic.

Sergeant 1st Class Stephen Furbush, an Army intelligence analyst, said the message read: "To be safe, stay put."

But Hassan said he and his father thought it just said: "Be safe".

To them, that meant getting away from the helicopters firing rockets and missiles.

His father drove. They planned to go to Karbala. They stopped at an Army checkpoint on the northbound road near Sahara, about 40km south of Karbala, and were told to go on, Hassan said.

But "the Iraqi family misunderstood" what the soldiers were saying, Furbush said.

A few kilometres later, a Bradley Fighting Vehicle came into view. The family waved as it came closer. The soldiers opened fire.

Hassan remembers an Army medic at the scene of the killings speaking Arabic.

"He told us it was a mistake and the soldiers were sorry," Hassan said.

"They believed it was a van of suicide bombers," Furbush said.

Hassan, his wife, his father and a brother were airlifted to the MASH unit.

Three doctors and three nurses worked on the father for four hours but he died despite their efforts.

Today, Hassan and his wife remain at the unit. He has staples in his head. She has a mangled hand and shrapnel in her face and shoulder.

Major Scott McDannold, an anaesthesiologist, said Hassan's brother, lying nearby, wouldn't make it. He is on a respirator with a broken neck.

On March 16, Hassan and his family began to harvest tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions and eggplant. It was a healthy crop, and they expected a good year.

"We had hope," he said. "But then you Americans came to bring us democracy and our hope ended."

Lamea is nine months pregnant.

"It would be better not to have the baby," she said.

"Our lives are over."


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