KUWAIT – Iraq has fired at least one Scud missile at Kuwait, U.S. and Kuwaiti officials say, prompting U.S. troops to don chemical protective suits and setting emergency air raid sirens blaring in Kuwait City.
A Kuwaiti defence ministry spokesman said one Iraqi Scud hit northern Kuwait at about 9.40 a.m. British time, while U.S. officers said two Scuds hit Kuwait, and another two were inbound.
In a slightly conflicting report, a British military spokesman said Iraq had fired just one Scud, which was brought down by a U.S. Patriot missile defence battery.
“One (Scud) was knocked by a Patriot system. Where the debris landed I’m not sure. The debris is being investigated at this moment. What we can say is there are no casualties,” said the spokesman at a U.S.-British military headquarters in Qatar.
The Iraq information minister denied on Thursday that Baghdad had any Scuds. The Soviet-designed missiles have a range of up to 650 km (400 miles), exceeding the 150-km (90 mile) maximum limit imposed on Iraq after the 1991 Gulf war.
Earlier on Thursday Iraq fired two other missiles into the northern desert, but Kuwaiti officials described these weapons as smaller, Chinese-made missiles. The British spokesman said Iraq had fired two seersucker anti-ship missiles.
U.S. military arrayed in northern Kuwait for an invasion of Iraq were given a “bunker call” to shelter from possible unconventional attack, reporters attached to the units said.
Soldiers were told there was an incoming Scud missile and were ordered to move to the highest level of biochemical protection, donning their protective suits, gas masks, gloves and boots and taking up an attack position.
Ten minutes later they were given the all-clear. Officers said it was not clear whether the alert was a drill or whether it had been prompted by an incoming Scud.