BAGHDAD, IRAQ, SEPT. 5 -- An American man trying to escape capture in Kuwait City was reported tonight to have been shot and wounded by Iraqi soldiers.
"We have no information on how serious his injuries might be," State Department spokesman Tom Dougherty said in Washington tonight. The identity of the American was being withheld, but his family had been notified of the reported shooting, Dougherty said.
Diplomats and foreign refugees arriving here from Kuwait today told of continued scattered resistance to the month-old Iraqi occupation there. Small knots of armed Kuwaitis sniping from the rooftops have kept up a scattered but sustained resistance to the occupation, according to a number of foreign witnesses. But judging from their accounts, the resistance is not on a scale large enough to threaten the Iraqi military's control.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein issued an unyielding statement on the crisis today that seemed to leave little room for compromise.
In a harsh speech read by an announcer on Iraqi television, Saddam called for a holy war against the United States and other countries opposing him in the gulf crisis. He also said the U.N. trade embargo against Iraq is "depriving the people of food and medicine," and claimed that, as a result, "children in Iraq are dying" -- a charge for which the White House said there was "no evidence."
Small groups of Western women and children who had been detained in Iraq and Kuwait continued to reach the West and at least three flights, carrying more than 150 Westerners from Iraq, landed in Amman, Jordan, today, the Associated Press reported.
A French-chartered Iraqi Airways jetliner arrived with 145 Westerners, including 10 Americans, airport officials said. Earlier, two scheduled Iraqi Airways flights brought 14 Westerners, including six Americans. British tycoon Richard Branson flew a group of Americans from Jordan to Newark via London on his Virgin Atlantic Airways, AP reported.
More Asian refugees arrived at Iraq's border with Jordan as efforts continued to ease their plight.
As supplies of water and power dwindled at the besieged U.S. Embassy in occupied Kuwait, White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said in Washington that President Bush called Ambassador W. Nathaniel Howell to offer encouragement to the American diplomats there "struggling with a very difficult situation."
The American man reportedly was "shot and wounded by Iraqi soldiers while trying to avoid capture in Kuwait City," the State Department said. Its statement did not indicate when the reported shooting took place.
The report of the shooting was well-founded, spokesman Dougherty told the AP. However, when U.S. Embassy officials in Kuwait contacted a hospital where they were told he had been taken, "hospital officials said they had no knowledge of the incident," he said.
"Attempts by our embassy in Kuwait to obtain more information from Iraqi officials in Kuwait have been in vain. We will continue to press this case," Dougherty said. "The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has been instructed . . . to demand consular access to this citizen."
Accurate assessments of the overall scope of the resistance in Kuwait have been difficult because the country remains off-limits to reporters and the Iraqi government has issued no information on the subject. Diplomats and other foreign residents have relayed sketchy information largely limited to what they see and hear from their homes or embassies.
A Western diplomat said the resistance seems to be operating in small groups bonded by family or friendship but without a central command or regular access to supplies from outside the country. As a result, some neighborhoods have heard gunfire almost nightly, while others have heard only occasional clashes and still others have been generally peaceful, he said in an assessment shared by the foreign residents.
A foreign doctor told friends that on one night last week the hospital where he works treated about 20 Iraqi soldiers who had been shot.
A British woman who reached Baghdad early this morning in a bus convoy from Kuwait said she saw Iraqi troops fire Friday night at Kuwaitis shooting down from the roof of a building across the street from her apartment. The Iraqi shells set fire to the top two stories, gutting the apartments there in a fire that burned for hours, she said in an interview at a hotel where she is awaiting clearance from Iraqi authorities to fly out of the country.
Iraqi troops used heavy weapons on her street during a second consecutive night of exchanges of fire between snipers high in apartment buildings and Iraqi patrols in the street, the woman, who gave her name only as Jean, said.
"They were right outside our windows," she said of the Iraqi patrol. "Some of the bullets were flying so low we thought they might come into our apartment. We were hiding in the passageways."
Jean declined to identify the neighborhood, saying Iraqi soldiers could still act against her husband or neighbors. But she said it is relatively close to the center of Kuwait City and not in the suburban neighborhoods that were preferred by many foreign residents there.
In the suburbs, Iraqi occupation troops have sealed off streets with checkpoints but have not sought to enter homes, a diplomat reported.
Jean said troops frequently searched her neighborhood, however, and last week closed it off for a five-hour sweep during which they combed through apartment buildings and knocked on doors, seeking Kuwaitis suspected of working with the resistance.
On Friday, she said, Iraqi soldiers forced their way into her apartment and took her husband into custody. After a half-hour, he returned home under an arrangement that she refused to describe.
Dozens of U.S., British and other foreign men have been taken into custody in Kuwait by Iraqi soldiers. The Iraqi government has said they have been "relocated" to strategic installations such as military bases or factories to act as human shields against potential U.S. bombing raids.
Iraqi occupation authorities, which Baghdad describes as a regional government since it annexed Kuwait, have announced that Kuwaitis will be executed if found harboring foreigners. But nonetheless many Kuwaitis, as well as Palestinian and Indian residents there, have continued to hide foreigners and bring them supplies so they do not have to risk going outside, the women said.
"Even the threat of being hanged if they helped us didn't bother them at all," one woman said. "They were great, bringing us food and everything."
One Kuwaiti resistance group has circulated by word of mouth a counter-threat that any Kuwaiti denouncing foreigners to Iraqi authorities will be killed, several women said.
U.S. officials said over the weekend that the American Embassy in Kuwait had only about a week's supply of power and water left, and Fitzwater said in Washington today that those supplies are "fast diminishing." But officials added that the group can sustain itself longer than originally thought.
The United States is prepared to leave the embassy, which Iraq ordered closed Aug. 24, when conditions dictate, and officials in Washington expect that those who are still there will be moved to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
In his call to Howell, Fitzwater said, Bush "expressed the appreciation of the American citizens for his efforts on their behalf. He told them to keep up the good work under these most difficult circumstances."
The embassy has attempted to aid Americans still trapped in Kuwait, but has been hampered since the Iraqis took up positions outside the building and then cut off power and water. Fitzwater said that because the Iraqis have access to the phone system, embassy officials have been reluctant to use it in a way that could put American citizens at risk.
"Americans are isolated," Fitzwater said. "No question. Sometimes we're able to help, sometimes we're not. . . . They have worked out various ways of making contact."
Saddam, in his televised statement, called upon "all Arabs, within the teachings of Allah and according to the Moslem holy war . . . to fight this U.S. presence of nonbelievers and to fight the stance taken by Arab agents who have followed these foreigners," AP reported.
He was referring to Saudi Arabia, which allowed U.S. troops onto its soil, and countries such as Egypt and Morocco, which sent contingents to join the multinational force. Addressing the people of those countries, he said: "We call on them to revolt against the traitors . . . and fight the presence in the holy land" of the Western force.
Fitzwater dismissed the entire Iraqi statement as "another rhetorical diatribe designed to split Arab unity," and said, "We see it as a sign of desperation."
In Ankara today, Turkey's parliament, by a vote of 246 to 136, approved a consitutional amendment giving the government temporary authority to send Turkish troops abroad and to allow the stationing of foreign troops in Turkey.
"This is not a declaration of war against anyone," Prime Minister Yildirim Akbulut said. "It is simply a means of being prepared for all eventualities."
Staff writer Dan Balz in Washington and special correspondent Thomas Goltz in Istanbul contributed to this article.