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U N I T E D N A T I O N S: Supporting Iraqi casualty reports from two stray missiles last week, a U.N. report says the missiles killed 17 people, including 10 children, in southern Iraq. The report, obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday, did not say who fired the missiles that landed in the poor al-Jumhuriya neighborhood in the port city of Basra and in the village of Abu Khasib, 16 miles to the south, on Jan. 25. The Pentagon acknowledged that a U.S. missile fired at air defense targets near Basra missed by miles and struck the al-Jumhuriya residential area. But there has been no claim of responsibility for the missile strike on Abu Khasib, which is also called Abu Fullous.

Daily Strikes: American and British planes patrolling the no-fly zones in northern and southern Iraq have been carrying out almost daily missile strikes on the country=92s extensive air defenses since Iraq began targeting allied aircraft with radar, and sometimes firing on them. Immediately after the two missile strikes, Iraq said at least 11 people were killed and 59 people were wounded. But according to the report from Hans von Sponeck, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Baghdad, the toll was higher: 17 deaths, about 100 injuries and 45 houses damaged or destroyed. Von Sponeck visited the site of both attacks on Jan. 27 and talked to local government officials and relief agencies. His report was sent to the Security Counci's acting president, Canada's deputy U.N. ambassador Michel Duval, on Monday by Benon Sevan, the executive director of the U.N.'s Iraq program.

Sadness Rather Than Aggression: Despite some demonstrations against the United States in al-Jumhuriya during the U.N. team's visit, the human climate was one of sadness rather than aggressiveness, the report said. The same atmosphere prevailed in Abu Khasib, where Muslim ceremonies were under way during the team's visit, it said. Eyewitnesses in al-Jumhuriya told Von Sponeck and other U.N. officials that the missile killed one woman and five children, according to the report. Von Sponeck was told that 64 people were injured and 30 were still hospitalized during the U.N. visit, the report said. When the missile struck on a Monday morning, most men were away from the neighborhood, which the report said was a low-income area where all streets were covered in garbage and some were flooded with sewage water.

Assessing the Damage: The U.N. team visiting the area verified that seven houses had been completely destroyed and a further 27 houses sustained damage. The damage was caused by both direct impact and the blast effect to the missile, it said. In Abu Khasib, a village of about 400 houses, five women and five children died as a result of the missile strike and 30 people were injured, the report said. At the time the team was leaving this rural community, the body of an 11th victim was brought back to the village from the hospital where the person had died,it said. The U.N. team reported that the physical damage in Abu Khasib was less severe than in al-Jumhuriya, with one collapsed house and 10 others suffering varying degrees of damage. In another development Thursday, chief U.N. weapons inspector Richard Butler said he was unlikely to remain at his post beyond June 30 when his contract expires.

The former Australian diplomat, who became a focus of controversy in the arms inspection dispute with Iraq, also said he was not seeking a spot on a new panel that will make recommendations on Iraq's disarmament. Speaking briefly as he left U.N. headquarters, Butler defended the work of the U.N. Special Commission, known as UNSCOM, saying it has accurately documented Iraqs efforts to make and conceal weapons of mass destruction. Russia and China have accused Butler and the commission of provoking U.S. and British airstrikes against Iraq in December by reporting that Baghdad had failed to live up to its pledge to cooperate with weapons inspectors. After the attacks, Iraq banned UNSCOM from returning.

Edith M. Lederer

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