Iraqi raid into Kuwait

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LONDON (Reuter) - Two hundred Iraqis crossed the Kuwaiti border in heavy transport vehicles early yesterday and seized armaments, including surface-to-surface missiles, from trenches before returning to Iraq, a local United Nations spokesman said.

The raid came as Iraq prohibited an aircraft chartered by UN weapons inspectors from landing in Baghdad.

The spokesman, Abdellatif Kabbaj, said the Iraqi raiders ignored protests by UN observers at the Umm Qasr border post, according to Kuna, the Kuwaiti news agency, monitored by the BBC. The trenches are guarded by the observers 24 hours a day in accordance with a UN Security Council resolution passed last November.

'Kabbaj pointed out that the Iraqis had been able, in 90 minutes, to transport the contents of the (arms) depots to their vehicles and returned to Iraq,' the agency said.

The aim of the operation appeared to be the retrieval of Iraqi arms left behind after the Gulf war. An Iraqi vehicle crashed into a UN vehicle during the operation, but there were no casualties.

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