Despite precision, strikes still incite fear

War in Iraq

March 23, 2003|By John Daniszewski | John Daniszewski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Mohammed Arawi, a 20-year-old computer programmer, was standing on the roof of a small hotel in south Baghdad yesterday afternoon when he saw what looked like two comets streaking toward him.

"They had a tail of fire and were flying toward the palace," he said. "Then they kind of stopped for a second, pointing nose up, and turned down quickly. They fell right in the center of the palace."

The incident summed up the U.S. bombing campaign here in Baghdad. The munitions have been accurate, sowing destruction on the buildings and installations most closely associated with the government and President Saddam Hussein himself.

The bombs have been so precise that many more Baghdad residents were willing to emerge from their homes and apartments yesterday, even as more bombings were taking place.

Not all the people were sanguine about the bombing. Many expressed feelings of gripping terror.

"I think my children will never forget this fear," said Salman Jumeily, 50, who had taken refuge in a shelter in the basement of a small hotel in south Baghdad.

Hoda Abbas, 41, hid at the same shelter with her husband and four children yesterday. Surrounded in the airy concrete basement by people stretched out on thick woolen blankets, she spoke of her family's ordeal.

"When the first rockets fell, we were already in the shelter, but it was still so scary as if they were dropping on our heads," she said. "The walls were shaking around us. [The children] screamed and cried every time a bomb hit - I was afraid that they would die of fear."

John Daniszewski writes for the Los Angeles Times, a Tribune Pubishing newspaper.

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