Report: U.S. Missile Killed Iraqi Civilians in Marketplace

An American missile is responsible for the deaths Friday of at
least 62 Iraqi civilians in a Baghdad market, reports the
London-based Independent.

According to Independent correspondent Robert Fisk, who
found the foot-long shrapnel shard of the missile at the scene of
the blast, the serial number on the shard identified the weapon as
an American-made Harm (High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile) device,
or a Paveway laser-guided bomb?both manufactured by Arizona-based

U.S. military officials confirmed that at least one Harm missile
was fired over Baghdad Friday, but a Pentagon spokesman would not
comment on the Independent report. ?Our investigations are
continuing,? he said. ?We cannot comment on serial numbers which
may or may not have been found at the scene.?

Both U.S. and British officials have suggested that the deaths
at the market in Baghdad?s Shu?ale district could?ve been caused by
malfunctioning Iraqi anti-aircraft missiles. ?A large number of
surface-to-air missiles have been malfunctioning and many have
failed to hit their targets and have fallen back on to Baghdad,?
said a spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair. ?We are not
saying definitively that these explosions were caused by Iraqi
missiles, but people should approach this with due skepticism.?

A government source in Washington suggested that the Iraqi
government may have planted the shrapnel at the scene.

Defense experts have criticized the reliability of the Harm
missile, which reportedly can be rendered inaccurate when enemy
targets rapidly switch their radar signals off and on?as Iraqi
forces have done. A farmer and his daughter were badly injured
during the Kosovo bombing in 1999 when a Harm missile exploded in
their village. ?The problem with Harms is that they can be seduced
away from their targets by any sort of curious transmission,? said
Nick Cook of Jane?s Defence Weekly. ?They are meant to
have corrected that but there have been problems.?

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