Smart bombs aimed at Saddam
By David Blair in
An air strike which American spokesmen were confident
had killed Saddam Hussein in a Baghdad restaurant missed its target
and hit nearby homes, killing at least eight people.
Three children were among the dead when four
satellite-guided bombs were dropped by a B1 Lancer. A jagged crater
25ft deep, strewn with debris and smelling of rotting flesh, is all
that remains of the two homes in the suburb of Mansur.
US intelligence claimed that this crater was the
remains of the restaurant. It now appears that all four bombs
hit homes leaving eight people
About 20 yards from the crater, the al-Sa'ah
restaurant was open for lunch yesterday. Its windows had been blown
out and its customers had to eat outside, but the building appeared
to have suffered no serious structural damage.
American intelligence said at the time of the bombing
on April 8 that Saddam and his two sons, Uday and Qusay, had been
meeting key aides in the restaurant. But far from being an elite
restaurant patronised by the old regime, al-Sa'ah is a cheap
establishment selling chicken lunches for about £1.
The B1 aircraft dropped two GBU31 bunker-buster bombs
shortly after 3pm. After a three-second interval, another two
2,000lb bombs were dropped. American officials claimed that the
restaurant had been "pulverised" and that, if Saddam had been inside
at the time, he would not have escaped.
In fact, all four bombs missed. A black banner draped
on the rubble behind the restaurant, the wreckage of the destroyed
homes, mourns the deaths of four members of one family.
"In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy
Spirit," it reads. "Mr Abid Abdul Masih Sami asks for your
condolences after his loved ones were killed in the American
bombing." The banner, which carries two white crosses, names the
dead as Sanaa, 30, his wife, and their daughters Lana, Miriam and
Lava, all under the age of 10.
Mr Sami worked as a security guard at the destroyed
house. Its owners had left Baghdad before the strike. His family
lived in a small, adjacent outhouse. Mr Sami was out when the bombs
fell. He returned to find the smoking crater where his home had
A similar banner announced the deaths of four members
of another family, who lived in the second destroyed home. Salma
Amin, 50, was killed with her sons, Mohammed, 27, Saif, 24, and her
daughter, Shams, 20. Neighbours said that Mohammed was engaged and
that his fiancee had visited the house less than an hour before it
At least four other homes clustered around the lip of
the crater suffered severe damage. The explosion uprooted a palm
tree and hurled it through the wall of a neighbouring house.
Raad Jiburi, 52, lived a stone's throw from the
crater. He was resting in his bedroom when the attack was launched.
"I heard the sound of an aircraft but it was far away," he said.
"Then I heard the bombs falling. The noise was like a machine
working. It became louder and louder and then the explosion hit
The blast from the first detonation hurled Mr Jiburi
off his bed and across the room. Three seconds later the second
explosion threw him into the corridor.
"I could not see anything," he said. "Everything was
black with dust. I could not hear anything. I went looking for my
family, for my children." Every window in Mr Jiburi's home has been
shattered and deep cracks criss-cross the walls.
He managed to flee the house with his wife Nawal, 42,
their sons Haider, 22, and Ramala, nine, and their daughter Tamara,
26. His one-year-old nephew, Abdullah, was also in the house at the
time. All escaped with minor injuries caused by flying glass.
Mr Jiburi said: "The idea that Saddam Hussein or his
sons were ever here was a false idea. We never saw any of them
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