By Robert Fisk in Baghdad
28 July 2003, Independent (UK)
Obsessed with capturing Saddam Hussein, American soldiers turned a botched
raid on a house in the Mansur district of Baghdad last night into a
bloodbath, opening fire on scores of Iraqi civilians in a crowded street and
killing up to 11, including two children, their mother and crippled father.
At least one civilian car caught fire, cremating its occupants.
The vehicle carrying the two children and their mother and father, was
riddled by bullets as it approached a razor-wired checkpoint in the street
outside the house.
Amid the fury generated among the largely middle-class residents of Mansur -
by ghastly coincidence, the killings were scarcely 40 metres from the houses
in which 16 civilians died when the Americans tried to kill Saddam at the
end of the invasion in April - whatever political advantages gained by the
killing of Saddam's sons were squandered. A doctor at the Yarmouk hospital,
which received four of the dead, turned on me angrily last night, shouting:
"If an American came to my emergency room, maybe I would kill him."
Two civilians, both believed to have been driving with their families, were
brought to the Yarmouk, one with abdominal wounds and the other with "his
brain outside of his head", according to another doctor. At the scene of the
killings, there was pandemonium. While US troops were loading the bullet-
shattered cars on trucks - and trying to stop cameramen filming the
carnage - crowds screamed abuse at them. One American soldier a few feet
from me climbed into the seat of his Humvee, threw his helmet on the floor
of the vehicle and shouted: "Shit! Shit!"
There was no doubt about the target: the home of Sheikh Rabia Mohamed Habib,
a prominent tribal leader who had met Saddam but who was not even in his
house when the Americans stormed it. One report says they killed a guard as
they entered. "The Americans searched the house completely, very roughly,"
Sheikh Habib said. "It seems they thought Saddam Hussein was inside."
One incensed man living opposite the scene shouted at me: "The Americans
didn't try to help the civilians they had shot, not once. They let the car
burn and left the bodies where they lay, even the children. It was we who
had to take them to the hospitals."