Stray US missiles hit Saudi Arabia

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The Independent Online

The Americans have had to rethink cruise missile routes in an embarrassing shift after up to five ship-fired Tomahawks aimed at Iraq landed in Saudi Arabia.

The Americans have had to rethink cruise missile routes in an embarrassing shift after up to five ship-fired Tomahawks aimed at Iraq landed in Saudi Arabia.

Missile launches over the kingdom were halted while the US military attempted to fix the problem, which apparently involved missiles fired from ships in the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. None of the missiles exploded and no injuries were reported.

Saudi Arabia, a key Gulf ally, is the second neighbour of Iraq to be accidentally hit by the much-touted US precision weapons. Stray missiles have also landed in Iran – one injured two workers when it smashed into an oil refinery in the south-western city of Abadan. In another incident that angered Syria, a bus carrying Syrian passengers back to Damascus was hit by a cruise missile on the Iraqi side of the border a week ago, killing five people.

"Basically, we have a situation where the Saudis have said, 'Can you see if we can figure out what has caused this?'" said Major-General Victor Renuart, a US spokesman in Qatar. "And so we have agreed with them to conduct a review of those launch procedures."

"We continue to use Tomahawk cruise missiles throughout the theatre. We have co-ordinated with the Saudis to hold on a couple of routes that might put them in a position where they could be close to any civilian population," he said.

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