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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 April, 2003, 09:45 GMT 10:45 UK
Basra bombing 'destroyed my family'

By Ryan Dilley
BBC News Online, Basra

The war in Iraq has cost 72-year-old Abid Hassan Hamoodi dear. The large family he once proudly headed was all but wiped out when aircraft from the US-led forces mistakenly bombed his Basra home.

I lost 10 of my family. I once lived in that house with six other relatives, now I am alone.

Abid Hassan Hamoodi
'My loss is too great to accept'
Just before the invasion started much of my family came to stay in my home, it being made of reinforced concrete and very strong.

There was my doctor son, my daughter - a microbiologist and her three sons. My other daughter is a medical consultant and she came with her infants.

We all slept in a very safe place at the back of the house, my bed was just a few metres away from the rest.

Several rockets had already fallen on a club across the road from my home, five days before my catastrophe.

Two days before, the Mukhabarat, the secret police building, was hit.

We escaped without injury, though all our windows were destroyed.

On 5 April at 5.30am, a plane dropped a rocket on the main road. We all woke up.

Just five minutes after we had returned to bed, the plane returned and dived very sharply, firing its rockets. They fell just at the back of the house where we were.

House collapsed

The three walls of the room fell on many of my family killing them instantly. I went to the room and saw them all covered with the bricks and concrete that had fallen.

There were 13 in that room. I somehow managed to save one of my daughters, together with her son aged five and her six-month-old infant. Her third child was killed sleeping beside his grandmother, my wife.

Bomb site
I have written to Tony Blair. Did the coalition come to Iraq to liberate Iraqis or to kill innocent civilians?
Abid Hassan Hamoodi
Despite my enormous efforts, I was unable to remove the things piled up on their bodies. My daughter-in-law went into the street shouting for help, but it was early and it was completely deserted.

We had to wait for the ambulances to come to remove them, but they were all dead.

I gave the kiss of life to three as they were removed, but I could not restore their lives. They were under that heap for such a long while.

If they had been buried for just a few minutes, they could have survived. But it was half an hour.

While I was busy removing my family and in such great shock and sorrow, people looted my house.

They stole two cases, one containing all our jewellery and $25,000, the other containing new clothes I had just brought back from Manchester, where my two sons live as British citizens.

The coalition has now created an excuse that they were firing on a house adjacent to mine and that Ali Hassan, known to many as Chemical Ali, was inside.

They attacked us just one day before Basra fell. They could have caught this man, not tried to kill him. Was it necessary to kill 20 people in our street for the sake of one bastard?

We were hoping the coalition would come to Iraq, but not to kill us. We are not the army, we don't live in an army base. I have spent my life away from politics.

I have never interfered with Saddam and he has left me alone to live with my family, bring up my children and educate them.

Now the coalition has killed a family of highly qualified people, irreplaceable people for Iraq.

The coalition has got what it wanted, it has liberated the country. But as far as I am concerned, my loss is too great to accept.



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