BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Programmes: Panorama  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Panorama
'I lost 10 members of my family'
Abed Hassan Hamoodi talks to Jane Corbin
Abed Hassan Hamoodi talks to Jane Corbin
The battle for Basra had tragic consequences for 72-year-old Abed Hassan Hamoodi.

He lost 10 members of his family in a coalition air strike aimed at taking out Saddam Hussein's cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid - also known as 'Chemical Ali'.

The eldest victim was Mr Hamoodi's wife Khariah. The youngest, his grand-daughter, was just six months old.

The family had gathered at his house because it was made of re-inforced concrete, and he thought it would be stronger than any of the other houses.

However, they didn't know that the coalition forces had intelligence that 'Chemical Ali' was sleeping in the house next door, and had made the decision to take him out.

Rubble

When the first rocket fell on the main street we just woke up and begun to pray

Abed Hassan Hamoodi

Four brothers and sisters in one family were also killed in the attack. All of them were students and graduates with a bright future ahead of them.

As the missiles rained down on the street, Hamoodi managed to save the life of his daughter Dina and her two children.

Describing the terrifying moment to Panorama's Jane Corbin, he said: "When the first rocket fell on the main street we just woke up and begun to pray. Two or three minutes later the jet came, dived very sharply and hit us three rockets here.

"All the bricks - the roof - the reinforced concrete fell on the family. And the heap of dust was about one metre high. They were all there. What I did managed luckily was to save the life of my daughter."

Suffocated

Abed Hassan Hamoodi's house
The remains of Abed Hassan Hamoodi's house
But after the building had been reduced to rubble, Mr Hamoodi still couldn't get to his family to try and save any survivors.

Mr Hamoodi, an official with the South Oil Company in Basra before the war started, said: "I couldn't do anything - it took three or four people some time to remove them. By the time they were out they had suffocated.

"It's the not the bricks it's all the dust and the brick and reinforced concrete which killed them instantly. When we removed and put in the ambulance - they were all dead."

His daughter Dina, 40, who is also a doctor in Basra, is still distraught by the attack. She still cannot believe it took place.

"31 people were bombed because of one person. It's so difficult."

The tragedy has not only taken her family away, it seems to have sapped her spirit as when asked about her plans she added: "Nothing, just crying. They don't have anything to do, just crying. Just crying. Do just nothing."

Trouble

She thought that the family would be safer in her father's house, and they had stocked up on supplies to enable them to get through the battle for Basra.

"We've got water, we've got electricity, everything. So we were very happy, a very happy family. We're all together, eating together. Playing together, just laughing, we were a very happy family."

And although Mr Hamoodi is hopeful for the future of Iraq. He still doesn't understand why the coalition forces didn't want to capture 'chemical Ali' instead of killing him in a missile attack.

"If it was Ali Hassan Majeed - who is Ali Hassan Majeed after they have already surrounded Basra?, it would have been much better to catch him." he said.

And as the family prepare for the future, Mr Hamoodi is in no doubt of the seriousness of the task ahead.

"The most important thing - we got rid of the regime," he said, "so we don't want to go back to the same trouble by nominating poor people. We want democracy, we want quietness, fairness, peace of mind. At least we will live as human beings."

Panorama: The Battle for Basra

Picture Gallery

Key stories

Background

Comments
Links to more Panorama stories are at the foot of the page.


 E-mail this story to a friend

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes