Girl, 3, dies in Baghdad missile strike

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The Independent Online

Eight missiles exploded in the Iraqi capital early yesterday, killing a girl and wounding four adults, says the official Iraqi News Agency. The attack was the second bombardment of Baghdad this month and the third this year.

The Katyusha missiles struck two houses in the Karadat Mariam district of west Baghdad, killing three-year-old Zahra Mohammed Hammeed. "There was lightning first, then an explosion in the bedroom," said her uncle, Hussein Mohammed, 50, who lives next door. "Dust was all over and we could not see anything at first. Then we found Zahra. She was dead." The girl's father, mother and two aunts were treated for moderate injuries.

Mr Mohammed said Zahra's house was destroyed. Most of the missiles fell behind the houses, exploding in an open area.

As on previous occasions, Iraq blamed the attack on Iran. An Iraqi dissident group based in Tehran, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, issued statements in Britain and Syria, admitting the attack by its armed wing. The Shia Muslim movement, one of the largest fighting for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime in Baghdad, claims to have between 4,000 and 8,000 fighters in Iraq.

A spokesman for the movement, Hamid al-Bayati, said five rockets were fired at the presidential palace and four at a government building nearby. The presidential palace is two miles from where the missiles landed.

The council claimed "tens" of people were killed in the attack, made "in retaliation for the great violations of the Iraqi people by the repressive Iraqi regime".

Iran's state radio and television reported the strike, but made no mention of the alleged Iranian link. A total of five people have been killed and 52 wounded in this year's Baghdad attacks.

The Supreme Council was formed in Iran in 1982 by Iraqi Shias sympathetic to Tehran's Shia revolutionary government, then in a border war with Iraq over the Shatt al-Arab Gulf waterway. After the war ended in 1988, the council continued operations aimed at ousting President Saddam. Associated Press