Ordnance Demolition By US Combat Engineers Kills at Least 40 Baghdad Residents

At least 40 people were killed and tens of others wounded in Baghdad as a result of demolition of shells and rockets by US combat engineers. According to witnesses, early Saturday morning, US sappers started demolition of confiscated ordnance left over by the Iraqi army. A mistake made by the sappers caused some of the rockets to blast off and explode in different parts of the Zafranyah neighbourhood located 15 kilometers to the east of downtown Baghdad.

"American soldiers," Ahmed Abdelkazer, a 19-year-old witness of the blast, told RIA Novosti, "have been demolishing ammunition in this site on a regular basis lately. We have grown kind of used to blasts. But this morning, the explosion was much more powerful than usual. I rushed up to the roof of my house and saw a rocket first spiraling up into the sky and then falling down to explode not far from where I live. The blast totally demolished three houses and badly damaged four others, leaving a 7-meter-deep hole in the ground." According to Ahmed, this rocket alone killed 16 local residents. In all, he saw four rockets blasting off from the demolition site to explode shortly in the neighbourhood, with only one falling down without an explosion. Other witnesses claim that they saw far more rockets blowing up in the area. At least 4-5 powerful explosions shook Baghdad this morning, sending tremors throughout the city.

The 1 square kilometer ordnance demolition site is located in an area 15 kilometers to the east of downtown Baghdad, between the Baghdad technological university, the Zafranyah neighbourhood and the Rashid military camp. At the moment, the entire site of the morning tragedy is cordoned off by US troops.

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