BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) _ The official Iraqi News Agency reported today that a U.S.-British missile attack hit a crowded area in the southern city of Basra, killing and wounding civilians. There was no immediate report from U.S. officials about a strike.

The agency said a missile hit the al-Jumhuriya section of the city at 9:30 a.m. local time.

It gave no figure for the number killed and wounded, but said most victims appeared to be women and children. Civil defense vehicles were rushed to the area to evacuate the wounded, the agency said.

U.S. warplanes patrolling the southern no-fly zone in Iraq have been firing missiles regularly in response to being locked onto by radar from Iraqi air defense positions.

Military officials in Washington said Sunday that U.S. aircraft attacked two surface-to-air missile sites in separate incidents that day. It was a second day in a row that U.S. jets enforcing the no-fly zone met resistance and fired back.

Basra is part of the southern no-fly zone set up to protect Shiite Muslims who rose up against the government of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

A similar zone was created by Western allies in Iraq's north to protect rebellious Kurds. The revolts by the Kurds and Shiites were both quickly put down by forces loyal to Saddam.