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Iraq files complaint with United Nations

Strike on market 'a violation of all united laws and principles'

U.S. Central Command says Iraqi forces might have attacked the market.
U.S. Central Command says Iraqi forces might have attacked the market.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The Iraqi government has written a letter of complaint to the United Nations denouncing what it says was a missile strike last week in a shopping area in Baghdad.

Iraqi officials said 15 civilians died in the explosion at the Shaab District market Wednesday. U.S. officials said coalition forces were not responsible, but Iraq insists they were.

In a letter read Sunday on Iraqi TV, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri called the incident "a crime against humanity and all principles."

"These raids are a pure violation of all U.N. principles that prohibited everyone from attacking civilians and spreading terror among them," the letter said.

The letter was addressed to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan. A U.N. spokesman said Sunday that Annan had not received the letter, which called on the United Nations to take action.

"This is a violation of all united laws and principles," Sabri wrote. "This aggression challenges the United Nations and the international community as a whole."

The U.S. Central Command said earlier that what happened at the marketplace "may never be known."

"We think it's entirely possible that this may have been in fact an Iraqi missile that either went up and came down or, given the behaviors of the regime lately, it may have been a deliberate attack inside of town," Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks said.

Brooks said coalition planes flew a mission over Baghdad at the time the marketplace was hit, but "not in that area."

Violations alleged

Both sides have charged the other with violations of the Geneva Conventions, which call for the humanitarian treatment of POWs and civilians during conflicts.

According to Sabri's letter, 420 Iraqis have been killed since the beginning of the war, and more than 40,000 had been injured. Iraq's casualty numbers cannot be verified independently.

A total of 66 coalition service members have been killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom, U.S. and British authorities said. The total wounded was unknown.

"Kofi is aware that the war has had casualties and insists all sides do everything to minimize casualties and to insure that all humanitarian norms regarding conflicts be respected," said U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq.

The March 26 market incident was the first of two such explosions in Baghdad. Iraqi TV reported that more than 50 were killed in a market bombing Friday. The Pentagon said both incidents were under review.

Also, fires raged Sunday when explosions went off near the 28 April Shopping Center in central Baghdad. The blasts occurred around 2 a.m., when the center was closed. The source of the blast was not known.

However, coalition forces said they targeted the Ministry of Information, which stands just yards from the shopping center.


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