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Monday, 12 November, 2001, 19:00 GMT
Iraq fires mortar into Kuwait
Iraqi soldiers
Observers say it is unlikely the incident was a mistake
By the BBC's Kim Ghattas in Kuwait City

Iraq fired a mortar across its border into Kuwait on Sunday morning.

The incident was confirmed on Monday by the United Nations observer mission, Unikom, on the border between Iraq and Kuwait.

A spokesman said the incident - which has not yet been reported in the Kuwaiti press - was serious and required thorough investigation.

There has as yet been no comment from the Kuwaiti government, but an unnamed Kuwaiti official said his country had already filed a complaint with the UN.

Accident unlikely

The Unikom spokesman said the incident started at 0930 local time on Sunday, when two soldiers fired several rounds of bullets from their AK-47 into Kuwait.

Iraqi Prime Minister Tariq Aziz
The Iraqi prime minister recently renewed the claim that Kuwait was part of Iraq
Fifteen minutes later, an 82 millimetre mortar bomb was launched into the Kuwaiti side of the demilitarised zone.

No one was injured and the Kuwaiti patrol police did not return fire.

Observers say it is unlikely the incident was a mistake since it did not involve anti-aircraft gunfire.

The Iraqi army regularly takes aim at US and British airplanes patrolling the no-fly zone.

There have been a few such incidents in the demilitarised zone over the past 10 years, but Sunday's incident has brought renewed concern to the small Emirate.

Secret hopes

Since they were invaded by Iraq in 1990, Kuwaitis have lived in the fear of another Iraqi attack.

A few days ago Iraqi Prime Minister Tariq Aziz renewed the claim that Kuwait was part of Iraq.

Unlike in the rest of the Arab world, where the US has been harshly criticised for its bombing of Afghanistan, criticism is almost absent in Kuwait.

Kuwaitis feel they are in debt to the US for their liberation in 1991 and are secretly hoping that the US will soon shift its attention from Afghanistan to Iraq.

Ten years after Iraq invaded Kuwait we look back at the legacy of war

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