Baghdad bombing continues

THE bombing of Baghdad continued tonight. Flames and smoke could be seen billowing over the Iraqi capital and several large explosions could be heard.Buildings close to the Information Ministry appeared to have been hit.

THE bombing of Baghdad continued tonight. Flames and smoke could be seen billowing over the Iraqi capital and several large explosions could be heard.

Buildings close to the Information Ministry appeared to have been hit.

The late-night blasts hit the capital hours after an explosion about 700 yards from the ministry.

Anti-aircraft guns went off from the roof of the building, witnesses said.


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Witnesses also said a housing complex for employees of a weapons-producing facility about 12 miles south of the capital was targeted in an attack, and that an unknown number of people were killed and wounded.

Iraqi officials put the civilian casualty toll at 4,000, including 350 killed.

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Defence Minister Sultan Hashem Ahmed said Iraqi troops were prepared to defend the capital, and warned that coalition forces would "pay a dear price" upon reaching Baghdad.

"There's nothing that prevents the enemy from doing anything in Baghdad, so be it,' he said at a news conference at a Baghdad hotel. "But the enemy must come inside Baghdad and that will be its grave.'

Iraqi state television, still on the air Thursday, reported that President Saddam Hussein chaired a meeting of the ruling Baath Party, his top aides and his son Qusai.

Although it did not show any video from that meeting, it said Saddam and other leaders urged Iraqi fighters to exploit what it called the "exhaustion' of coalition forces.

Silent video was shown of another meeting of Saddam, Qusai and other party officials.

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