US Bombs Iraq for Second Night

Baghdad: (South News): August 13 - A second straight day of allied airstrikes over southern Iraq damaged a train station and several homes and injured at least three people, the official INA news agency reported Sunday.

British and U.S. warplanes  on Saturday night carried out a missile attack on Samawa railway station,170 miles south of Baghdad,  in Muthanna province- southern Iraq, a day after airstrikes in the same city that killed two people and injured 19 others.

Friday's airstrikes hit a warehouse used to store food allowed under the U.N. oil-for-food deal as well as several homes, Iraqi officials said.

Saturday's raid followed bombing by U.S. and British planes on Friday night  leaving one person dead and 20 injured, three of them seriously, hospital officials said. A resident said the planes struck at 11 p.m. on Friday, firing around a dozen rockets.

The raids, the first on Iraq in six weeks, struck a warehouse containing building materials in Samawa, 175 miles south of Baghdad, according to a Reuters photographer. Other witnesses said the planes struck a residential neighborhood, a grain silo, a construction materials warehouse and a building of the traffic department.

The photographer said part of the warehouse was destroyed while rooms used to store food and six nearby houses were badly damaged. There were no Iraqi military units in the area but the photographer reported U.S. or British planes flying over the site some 16 hours after the strike.

He said part of the warehouse was destroyed while nearby houses were badly damaged.The attack caused the electric power and cooling systems to break down and cut water to the city. The Iraqi who was killed, Ihssan Sabri, 25, was buried later Saturday in the presence of the local governor, Ayyad Khalil Zaki and other dignitaries.

In a news conference on Saturday, Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh told reporters in Baghdad that the warehouse and storage rooms contained food and other material imported under the oil-for-food program with the United Nations.

"This is another criminal act ... against a facility providing food and services to the people of Muthana province," Saleh said. He said Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, who house U.S. and British bases, were partners in the raid had been targeting grain silos and food warehouses and noted that 141 silos and warehouses had been bombed  in 1991.

The Minister displayed photos of the warehouses attacked by U.S and U.K military aircraft on Friday, pointing out that these places had been destroyed in 1991 and reconstructed by the Trade Ministry staff in the same year.

He said he expects allied warplanes to increase their strikes because of ``their international political failure, the challenge of the Venezuelan president to their policies and the calls of the world community to stop aggression.''

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez visited Baghdad on Thursday, the first visit by a foreign head of state since before the 1991 Gulf War. Chavez said U.N. sanctions against Iraq that have been in place since the Persian Gulf War were an injustice and were causing intense misery to the nation's children.

"Who has the right to really have an innocent child die there?" he said in an emotional plea. "Let God have pity on the soul of those who act that way." "I think the time has come for it to be over," he said. UNICEF says the number of infant and child deaths in Iraq has doubled in the decade since the sanctions began.

Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid said yesterday he would visit Iraq in the coming months, following the example of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez who arrived in Jakarta fresh from a ground-breaking visit to Baghdad.

The Venezuelan president, whose country holds the revolving presidency of Opec, had drawn fire from Washington by including Iraq on his itinerary Abdurrahman, who is fluent in Arabic and studied at the University of Baghdad, said he also had been asked by the United States not to visit five countries on Washington's "rogue states'' list.

But Chavez and Wahid are not alone in calling for an end to strict trade sanctions that the United Nations says will be in place until Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction.

High-profile critics include the Vatican, former weapons inspector Scott Ritter - who now says Iraq is essentially disarmed - and former U.N. humanitarian coordinators Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponeck, who resigned in protest over the sanctions policy.

 There are nearly daily clashes between Iraqi forces and the US and British warplanes, that are enforcing an illegal no-fly zones in the north and south of the country from bases in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have conducted a total of 23,271 sorties over Iraq. The raids have so far killed 301 Iraqis and wounded 920 others since December 17, 1998