Iraq says allied warplanes attack a southern train station, several injured

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The Independent Online

A second straight day of allied airstrikes damaged a train station and several homes in southern Iraq, the official Iraqi News Agency reported Sunday.

A second straight day of allied airstrikes damaged a train station and several homes in southern Iraq, the official Iraqi News Agency reported Sunday.

Injuries were reported in the strike, which came a day after Iraq says two people were killed and 19 were injured in an air raid on a food distribution center in the same area. The United States has said military sites were hit both days.

"The American administration and its evil ally Britain, in clear collaboration with the hireling rulers in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, have committed another crime," INA said Sunday. The missiles, it said, targeted the Samawa train station, injuring "a number of citizens and inflicted damage to nearby houses."

U.S. and British planes struck Friday in Samawa, 270 kilometers (170 miles) south of Baghdad, hitting the main food ration distribution center used to store food allowed under the U.N. oil-for-food deal, Iraqi officials said Saturday.

The U.S. Central Command confirmed Friday night strikes, saying allied aircraft targeted two Iraqi air defense sites after anti-aircraft artillery fired on planes patrolling the zone. There was no U.S. report on damage.

The command said in a statement from its headquarters in Florida that coalition planes had struck command posts and a surface-to-air missile site. It made no mention of Iraq's claims of two dead, but said allied airstrikes "do not target civilian populations or infrastructure" and seek to avoid civilian casualties.

A U.S. Central Command statement on the Saturday strikes said coalition aircraft struck two anti-aircraft artillery sites in response to fire on the patrol planes. It made no mention of casualties and said damage was being assessed.

President Saddam Hussein, meanwhile, met Saturday with his two top ruling councils - the Regional Command of al-Baath ruling party and the Revolutionary Command Council - and discussed the "aggression which destroys Iraqi properties with American backing and Saudi-Kuwaiti support."

"The Saudis are first in aggression, followed by the Kuwaiti rulers in treason," the council said in a statement carried by INA.

Iraq has criticized Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, along with Turkey, for allowing American and British allies to use their bases for daily flights over the no-fly zones of northern and southern Iraq.

Iraq says allied airstrikes have killed more than 300 citizens and injured at least 900 others, figures disputed by the United States.

INA described the Friday strikes as response to a speech Tuesday by Saddam in which he said his Gulf neighbors had "sold their souls" to the United States and Israel.

In a letter sent Saturday to the United Nations, Foreign Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf accused the Saudi and Kuwaiti governments of "providing logistical support for the American and British forces, making them contributing partners in the aggression."

The foreign minister demanded that the U.N. Security Council "rise up to its responsibilities in keeping the international security and peace by stopping the continued aggression."

The United States and Britain have been enforcing zones since the end of the 1991 Gulf War. The zones were set up to protect Shiite Muslim rebels in the south and Kurdish insurgents in the north from attacks by Iraq's army.