LONDON, FEB. 8 -- Two British journalists who witnessed the results of allied air strikes inside Iraq described today from Jordan how their reports were altered by Iraqi censors to eliminate references to the damage done to military targets.
Peter Jouvenal, a cameraman working for the British Broadcasting Corp., said censors had excised footage showing damage to military targets at a bridge destroyed by allied bombers at Nassariyah, south of Baghdad, to make it appear that the only victims of the raid were civilians.
At a nearby hospital, he told the BBC, monitored in London, that he was prevented from filming soldiers wounded in the raid. At one point, he said, an official escort covered with a blanket the uniform of one victim to make him appear to be a civilian.
Jouvenal said while one family living near the bridge had been badly wounded by the attack, he believed most of those hurt in the raid were soldiers and he denied official Iraqi claims that the bridge was only used for civilian purposes.
Richard Beeston of the Times of London told a BBC radio interviewer that censors cut out from his stories references to military targets and to poor morale among the civilian population.
One of the items cut was his description of the steady stream of taxis and other vehicles carrying flag-draped coffins on their roofs heading north from the Kuwait area. He also confirmed allied claims that officials are moving government institutions into schools, noting that in one regional town, a senior security official emerged from a school to greet his party of journalists.
Beeston said many Iraqis expressed disapproval of President Saddam Hussein. "In some cases they seemed as angry at him as they were with the allies," he said. "I did not hear a single person, even among . . . civilian survivors, say openly or unprompted, 'We believe Kuwait should be part of Iraq.' "
The British press also described strong-arm tactics against journalists by allied troops. Writing in the Times, correspondent Christopher Walker said a wire service photographer working outside the military pool system had been held for six hours by armed U.S. Marines who threatened to shoot him if he left his car. "We have orders from above to make this pool system work," an officer told him.
British officials have attempted to eliminate from reports anti-Islamic comments by soldiers and to prevent reports that the fears of Iraqi germ warfare are so great that all British front-line troops have been given emergency injections against bubonic plague, according to Walker.
In other war developments, Reuter reported that U.S.-led forces have stepped up strikes on roads from Baghdad to the Jordanian border.
According to the U.S. government, the roads have been attacked because they are being used by Iraqis to fire Scud missiles from mobile launchers. Reuter correspondent Bernd Debusmann reported from Treibil, Iraq, that many Iraqis interpret the attacks as an expansion of U.S. war aims.
Today, correspondents returning to Jordan from Baghdad counted 28 destroyed trucks, roughly half of them civilian. Nine days ago, when correspondents made the trip in the other direction, there were six burned-out vehicles.
None of the wrecked or burned-out vehicles sighted today was a missile launcher.
There are two roads linking Amman and Baghdad, an old two-lane highway and a superhighway that was completed in the mid-1980s. One lane of the main bridge carrying the superhighway over the Euphrates was hit and damaged this week. Huge chunks of the structure are missing.