A Kuwaiti fire chief on the scene said it appeared an Iraqi missile flew low over the water and landed near the mall, which was closed for the Muslim holy day.
“It came from the northeast part of the Gulf. It seemed to be traveling at a very low level,” so no air raid sirens sounded, Fire Chief Jassim al-Mansouri said.
The official Kuwait News Agency reported two injuries — a Kuwaiti man whose leg was broken and an Egyptian who suffered a broken shoulder.
U.S. Central Command began an investigation but could not confirm a missile attack.
Witnesses who gathered shortly after the explosion at 1:45 a.m. local time told reporters they saw a twisted piece of metal with the number “5420” printed in red. The word “protract” was seen on another shard. Emergency workers put the fragments in white bags that they took away for analysis and a team of Czech chemical weapons experts scoured the scene to determine whether there were traces of chemical or biological materials.
The Kuwaiti information minister told CNN the missile was a Chinese-made Silkworm, which Iraq has used before.
However, some Kuwaiti officials who examined the fragments said they believed the missile was actually an errant American cruise missile that had been fired from the Persian Gulf toward Iraq.
“It was an American cruise missile, we know from the markings and writing on it,” said a Kuwaiti police colonel who did not give his name to the New York Times reporter on the scene.
The explosion collapsed parts of the roof, shattered glass windows and knocked doors off their hinges.
This was the 13th missile fired towards Kuwait since the beginning of the coalition military campaign to oust Saddam Hussein. None of the previous Iraqi missiles carried chemical or biological warheads.
Kuwait is guarded by U.S. Patriot batteries, which have intercepted many of the rockets. Others have landed in unpopulated areas of the desert.