Bombs Explode in Heavily Fortified Baghdad Compound
This is the first time that insurgents have struck from within the compound that houses the British and U.S. embassies and Iraqi government offices. The zone is hard to penetrate as it is ringed with cement blast walls and manned checkpoints.
The military reported at least three American civilians among the dead, and a U.S. airman and a soldier among the wounded. According to the Associated Press, four of the civilians killed in the Green Zone were employees of DynCorp, a global security firm based in Fort Worth, Texas.
Capt. Lennol Absher said there were two nearly simultaneous blasts, one at the Green Zone Cafe, the other at an Iraqi bazaar selling rugs, DVDs and assorted items.
The U.S. Embassy strongly encouraged Americans living or working in the Green Zone to limit their movements, travel in groups, carry several means of communication and avoid the bazaar and restaurants inside the compound.
A few hours after the attack, a group claimed responsibility for the Green Zone bombings on a militant Web site. The claim could not be independently verified, however. “Two lions from the Tawhid and Jihad group’s Martydom Brigade managed to get inside … the Green Zone in the capital Baghdad,” said the posting, calling Thursday’s attack one of the Zarqawi group’s most successful operations.
Also Thursday, a roadside bomb killed a U.S. soldier in eastern Baghdad. Elsewhere another soldier was killed when his patrol was attacked with small arms fire, bringing the number of soldiers killed to 16 during the past eight days.
Gunmen killed journalist Dina Hassan and a judge in separate attacks in Baghdad, and two senior Iraqi army officers were shot dead in Baquba north of the capital, Interior Ministry spokesman Adnan Abdel Rahman said.
In addition, gunmen kidnapped two Turkish and two Iraqi truck drivers in separate ambushes near Samarra, north of Baghdad. An Iraqi militant group also said it beheaded a Turkish driver it was holding hostage, according to a video posted on the group’s Web site.
And in Kirkuk police found the body of a beheaded man believed to have been working for U.S.-led forces. Insurgents frequently target Iraqis and foreign workers seen as collaborating with U.S. forces or the interim government.
U.S. warplanes continued to hammer targets in rebel-held Fallujah hoping to flush out Zarqawi and his group.
On Wednesday, Iraq’s interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi threatened military action against Fallujah unless the residents hand over Zarqawi and his group.