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Iraqi missile hits Kuwaiti shopping mall

The Iraqi missile fell into the sea and exploded near a major shopping mall in Kuwait City.

india Updated: Mar 29, 2003 15:56 IST

A missile fell into the sea and exploded near a major shopping mall in Kuwait City early on Saturday, but officials said it caused no injuries and little damage.

It was the closest that a missile has come to Kuwait City since the war began in neighbouring Iraq on March 20.

Appearing on national television, police Brig. Ahmed al-Rujaid said the missile landed at about 1:45 a.m. (2245 GMT Friday) close to the Souq Sharq mall, a multilevel shopping centre that's one of Kuwait's largest.

No air raid siren sounded before the explosion, which shattered windows, blasted the glass door at the front of the mall and blew out huge chunks of plaster from the adjacent parking structure. "There were no injuries and material damage is very small," al-Rujaid said.

Parts of the ceiling and walls littered the ground in a covered plaza in front of the mall after the explosion. Television images also showed smoke rising over the Kuwaiti skyline. Souq Sharq is on the Kuwaiti seafront and includes a marina, shops and restaurants. The mall is about half a mile from Sief Palace, the official seat of the emir of Kuwait. The emir, Sheik Jaber Al Ahmed Al Sabah, lives in Dasman palace, about two miles further away.

US Patriot missile batteries guard Kuwait against missile attacks by Iraq. In Doha, Qatar, the US Central Command said it was investigating the explosion but had no further information and could not confirm a missile attack. It's the 13th missile fired at Kuwait since the US-led military campaign to oust Iraq's Saddam Hussein began on March 20. None is believed to have carried chemical or biological warheads, and none has caused damage or injury. Several have been destroyed by Patriots.

On Thursday, civilian defence officials in Kuwait said a US Patriot missile knocked down an Iraqi missile fired from southern Iraq. No debris was reported to have fallen on populated areas. Air raid sirens have sounded repeatedly since the war began last week, cautioning the 2.3 million residents of this small, oil-rich state to take cover.

Four of the missile strikes were believed to involve Scuds - which Iraq also is banned from possessing. Two others were identified as Chinese-made surface-to-surface Silkworm missiles, Kuwait officials said.

First Published: Mar 29, 2003 08:19 IST