KUWAIT, AUG. 3 -- This report was filed Friday before telephone communications with Kuwait were cut. It was supplemented with staff interviews in Washington and wire dispatches.

Iraqi troops pushed south of Kuwait City toward the border with Saudi Arabia today, but they encountered scattered pockets of resistance from vastly outnumbered Kuwaiti forces.

Two large explosions were heard from the palace of the emir at 8 a.m. local time, more than 24 hours after 100,000 Iraqi troops rolled into this Persian Gulf emirate.

Sporadic machine-gun fire was heard in the streets. Gunfire and explosions were also heard at the main military barracks and along the coast about 15 miles away, according to the Associated Press.

A Western diplomat here said eight Iraqi patrol boats were positioned off Kuwait and apparently were shelling the city. Gulf shipping sources told news agencies that a Kuwaiti navy gunboat tried to fire at Iraqi forces but was strafed by Iraqi warplanes.

Looting by Iraqi soldiers was reported here but could not be verified firsthand. According to one Kuwaiti source in Washington, the Gold Souk, or market, in downtown Kuwait city was emptied by Iraqi troops Thursday, and private houses were looted today.

The downtown area of the Kuwaiti capital is densely packed with shops and markets stocked with luxury goods. These stores may be targets for Iraqi soldiers, who would have trouble finding similar products in cash-starved Iraq.

Kuwaitis here said they believed Iraqi troops were heading south, toward the border with Saudi Arabia.

In addition, British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd said Iraqi troops were massing along the Saudi border, and State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the Iraqis were between five and 10 miles from the border.

"For the first 40 kilometers {24 miles} that we traveled toward Saudi Arabia we passed a lot of Iraqi troops, thousands of them, equipped with howitzers, missile launchers, lots of tanks and even more armored personnel carriers," Elizabeth Thames, 36, of Glenrock, Pa., told the Associated Press after fleeing Kuwait today.

A missile struck Saudi territory early in the day, according to diplomatic sources in Saudi Arabia quoted by news agencies, but there were no reports of injuries and it was unknown if the missile was deliberately fired at Saudi Arabia.

Iraq said it had no designs on Saudi Arabia, and a report from Baghdad quoted an Iraqi official as saying Iraq would begin withdrawing from Kuwait on Sunday.

An official Iraqi government spokesman in Baghdad said Iraq's troops in Kuwait "are performing their task in accordance with the statement issued Thursday," which said that the invasion had been in response to a request by "young Kuwaiti revolutionaries" who had taken over the Kuwaiti government, Reuter news agency reported. The spokesman said Saudi Arabia had nothing to do with the situation in Kuwait.

Iraq has 1 million men under arms, compared with Kuwait's 20,000, and far outnumbers Kuwait in tanks and combat aircraft.

A Kuwaiti citizen who lives in Washington said he had been told by phone from Saudi Arabia that Kuwaiti air force pilots were bombing Iraqi supply lines.

"They've really shown some tremendous bravery because they've been landing and taking off from any piece of asphalt they can find," said the Kuwaiti, a high-ranking official of an international organization who asked not to be further identified.

He said he and other Kuwaitis in the United States had formed a committee to organize resistance to the Iraqi occupation.

Telephone communications between the United States and Kuwait were cut this morning, but phone lines to Britain remained open for a few additional hours before they, too, were broken. At least one local radio station also was knocked off the air.

Kuwait's oil facilities appeared to have been left undamaged, according to a U.S. administration source, an indication, oil analysts speculated, that Iraq intends to keep control of Kuwait's oil industry.