U.S. Government Office in Iraq Attacked By Mortar Fire

Associated Press Writer

Woodland Democrat

November 11, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- The U.S. government's office in central Iraq came under mortar fire early Saturday, an attack that touched off a blaze in part of the complex, Iraqi police said. There was no immediate word on damage or casualties.

In the western city of Tal Afar, two suspected insurgents were killed during an overnight search for those behind a suicide bombing Friday that killed six Iraqi soldiers in the western city of Tal Afar.

Hand grenades and 20 AK-47 assault rifles were seized in the raid just east of the city, along with fake ID cars and passports, cell phones, and a pair of pickup trucks, police Brig. Najim Abdullah al-Jubouri said.

Al-Jubouri identified those killed as Zainal Abdul-Ghani Younis al-Haider and Bakir Khuweiret, and said 10 terrorist suspects were arrested.

The mortar attack was at least the second reported in recent weeks against the U.S. office in Hillah, which oversees government and diplomatic interests in the central Euphrates region, about 60 miles south of Baghdad.

Nine of the 10 mortar bombs fired landed inside the complex, police Capt. Muthanna Khalid Ali said.

He said U.S. and Iraqi forces sealed off the area and there was no word on damage or injuries.

U.S. diplomats usually refuse to comment on such reports to avoid releasing sensitive information to insurgents. Calls and e-mail seeking confirmation were not immediately returned by U.S. Embassy spokesmen in Baghdad.

Inaccurate but highly mobile, the mortar is growing increasingly popular among Iraqi fighters because it can be fired from a secure location several miles from a target and then quickly hauled away or hidden. Some insurgent groups mount the weapons on pickup trucks, remaining in constant motion except when firing.

Tal Afar has suffered scattered insurgent attacks, even after Bush in March declared the city an example of progress made in bringing security to Iraq. Tal Afar lies 90 miles east of the Syrian border, 260 miles northwest of Baghdad.

Also Saturday, a bomber drove a car rigged with explosives into the police station in the northern town of Zaganya, killing the police chief, burning four vehicles, and badly damaging the building, the provincial police information office said.

In nearby Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, a staffer with the local agriculture directorate, Zuhair Hussein Alwan, was shot and killed by unknown assailants

Two bodies that had been bound and shot in the head and chest were pulled from the Tigris River Saturday morning in Suwayrah, 25 miles south of Baghdad. Scores of such bodies are recovered around Iraq each week, most believed to be the victims of sectarian death squads, morgue administrator Maamoun al-Ajili said.