Witnesses Say U.S. Tank Fired At Them Without Warning

Dar Al-Hayat

Bassem Hawky lost his right arm when, he says, a U.S. tank fired on a bus that he and his family were riding in. But he worries more for his 10-year-old son, who lost both arms and is now fighting for his life.

The 38-year-old Hawky said the tank fired at the bus in which were his wife, mother and five children and about 20 other passengers. They were on their way from Hillah in central Iraq to Najaf, where they live after a visit to relatives.

"We saw a column of U.S. tanks and when we got close to a the first tank, which flew the American flag, it fired on us without any warning," he said, speaking at the Hillah Hospital where his son is in the intensive care unit.

"That Bush has no mercy, faith, or humanity," Hawky said. The Hawkys are among dozens of Iraq civilians whom medical personnel at Hillah Hospital say have been wounded or killed this week.

Dr. Haidar Abbas Hantoush said 40 civilians have been killed and another 260 injured since Monday. All were victims of bombings of civilian areas by the allied forces, he said.

"So far we have no shortage of medical supplies, but if this continues for a few more days, we will run short of drugs, antibiotics and surgical instruments," he told The Associated Press.

One woman in her 50s was seen by reporters at the hospital pushing a cart on which another woman, also in her 50s, sat. The woman in the cart had her right arm wrapped in bloody bandages. The woman pushing the cart was angry, shouting at reporters: "Is she a soldier? Is she a member from Fedayeen Saddam?" It was not clear how the woman in the cart received her injury.

Hillah is 89 kilometers south of Baghdad. The building that once housed Fedayeen Saddam, a militia led by Saddam's son Odai, was razed to the ground. The building stood at the northern entrance of Hillah.

Positions around the city were sandbagged and manned by civilian volunteers and members of Saddam's ruling Baath party.

The alleged attack on civilians came to light Tuesday, when Iraqi officials said U.S. Apache helicopters attacked a neighborhood in the central Iraq city of Hillah, killing 33 people. The U.S. Central Command in Doha, Qatar, said it was investigating the incident but that no Apaches could have been involved.

Hillah, which lies on the Euphrates River near the ruins of ancient Babylon, is believed by the U.S.-led coalition to be home to a camp for Saddam's Fedayeen, a loyalist militia used to combat internal unrest and, in recent days, harass American and British forces.

2003 Media Communications Group

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