MANAMA, Bahrain — Iranian forces pounded the southern Iraqi port city of Basra with heavy artillery fire Sunday in retaliation for a wave of Iraqi raids on Iranian oil targets. Iraq said many people, mostly women and children, were killed.
Tehran radio said that Iranian Revolutionary Guards shelled several areas of Iraq on Sunday, inflicting "heavy damage" in Basra and two other district centers in flood-prone land at the northernmost end of the Persian Gulf.
The radio said that Iranian forces rained artillery on the railway station at Shuaiba and the industrial area of Zubayr, two districts south of Basra and less than 20 miles from Kuwait.
Artillery also was trained on Qala Diza, a district capital in the north along the western border with Iran, it said.
The radio said fire and clouds of smoke rose from some of the targets, which included airports, radio and television stations, an electronics warfare center, a liquefied natural gas refinery and military arsenals. It did not give precise locations.
Iraq confirmed the attack on Basra but did not comment on the other attacks reported by Iran.
An Iraqi military spokesman quoted by the state-run Iraqi News Agency said shells slammed into mosques, houses and schools, including kindergartens, in the war-scarred city of Basra, 27 miles from the gulf along the Shatt al Arab waterway.
The Iraqi spokesman was quoted as saying that many people, mostly women and children, were killed in Basra. No numbers were given.
The attack came a day after Iran warned that it would launch retaliatory strikes on all Iraqi cities after more than two weeks of Iraqi air raids on Iranian oil targets. Iran on Saturday also urged Iraqi citizens living close to military and economic facilities to seek refuge in four Shia Muslim cities.
In another sign that the hostilities show no signs of abating, the Iranian daily Ettelaat reported that 500,000 Iranians have volunteered for duty and are "ready to carry out martyrdom-seeking operations in the Persian Gulf."