Missile blast near Kuwait mall hurts 2
By Diana Elias
KUWAIT CITY A missile fired by Iraq fell into the sea and exploded near Kuwait's most popular shopping mall early today, blasting out windows, according to Kuwaiti and U.S. officials.
Two people suffered minor injuries, the official Kuwait News Agency reported.
It was the closest that a missile has come to Kuwait City since U.S. troops based in the Persian Gulf emirate invaded neighboring Iraq on March 20.
"It came from the northeast part of the Gulf. It seemed to be traveling at a very low level," so no air-raid sirens sounded, Fire Chief Jassim al-Mansouri said.
He said it hit a small pier that juts into the Gulf in front of the Souq Sharq mall at around 1:45 a.m., and pieces landed nearby.
The multilevel shopping center on Kuwait's seafront includes department stores, restaurants, theaters and Western-style stores such as Starbucks and the Body Shop.
The information minister, Sheik Ahmed Fahd Al Ahmed Al Sabah, said it was believed to have been a Chinese-made Silkworm missile. He said it was the 16th missile that Iraq has fired at Kuwait since the war began.
None contained chemical or biological weapons.
Col. Youssef al-Mullah, spokes-man for Kuwait's military, told the Kuwait News Agency that a fragment from the missile fired today had Arabic writing on it.
U.S. officials in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, also said the missile appeared to have been a Silkworm launched from southern Iraq.
"Some missiles we cannot detect with our missile-defense system," al-Sabah said. "This kind of missile flies very low."
The explosion shattered windows, blasted the glass door at the front of the mall and blew out huge chunks of plaster from the adjacent parking garage.
Parts of the ceiling and walls littered the ground in a covered plaza in front of the mall after the explosion. Television images also showed smoke rising over the Kuwaiti skyline.
An Egyptian and a Kuwaiti were treated at a nearby hospital and released for injuries, the Kuwait News Agency reported.
The mall is about half a mile from Sief Palace, the official seat of the emir of Kuwait. The emir lives in Dasman Palace, about two miles farther away.
U.S. Patriot missile batteries guard Kuwait against missile attacks by neighboring Iraq. In Doha, Qatar, the U.S. Central Command said it was investigating the explosion.
None of the missiles fired at Kuwait has caused significant damage or injury. At least three have been destroyed by Patriots, U.S. military spokesmen said.