More than 100,000 Iraqi soldiers backed up by 700 tanks invaded the Gulf state of Kuwait in the early hours of this morning.

Iraqi forces have established a provisional government and their leader Saddam Hussein has threatened to turn Kuwait city into a “graveyard” if any other country dares to challenge the “take-over by force”.

Iraqi jets have bombed targets in the capital and special forces have landed at the defence ministry and at the Emir’s palace. Road blocks are in place and there are reports of looting in the city’s shops.

Initial reports suggest up to 200 people have been killed in heavy gunfire around the city.

It is reported that the younger brother of Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Sabah has been killed whilst trying to defend the palace, while the Emir himself has escaped to Saudi Arabia.

All communication has been cut with Kuwait and many people, including thousands of foreign nationals, are trapped in the city.

‘Absolutely unacceptable’

The invasion has sparked strong condemnation from leaders around the world.

The United Nations Security Council, in emergency session, has called for the “immediate and unconditional” withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Kuwait.

British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, branded the invasion as “absolutely unacceptable” while American president George Bush condemned the attack as “a naked act of aggression.”

So far there has been no condemnation of the attack from any Arab country.

Kuwait’s assets in the UK and the US have been frozen to prevent Iraq from seizing them and the US has also frozen Iraq’s assets.

The Soviet Union, Iraq’s main supplier of arms, has suspended the delivery of all military equipment to Iraq.

In recent weeks Iraq had accused Kuwait of flooding the world market with oil and has demanded compensation for oil produced from a disputed oil field on the border of the two countries.

In response to the news of the invasion the price of oil rose dramatically and stock markets around the world have fallen.

Kuwait has appealed for international aid but there is no suggestion of any military action from the West at this stage.

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