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Missile hits plane in Iraq - U.S.
( 2003-11-22 17:10) (CNN.com)

The latest series of audacious attacks in Iraq have continued with a missile attack on a transport plane and car bombings on two police stations, according to U.S. military sources.

Shortly before 8 a.m. (0500 GMT) on Saturday, a car bomb hit a police station in Baquba about 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Baghdad, the officials said.

CNN's Jane Arraf said some civilians died in the attack but it is not yet clear how many. No coalition soldiers were injured in the attack.

About 30 minutes later, two car bombs hit a police station in Khan Bani Sa'ad, a town about 20 km (12 miles) north of Baghdad. The number of casualties there is also unknown.

Also on Saturday morning, a DHL courier plane safely landed at Baghdad International Airport after a heat-seeking, surface-to-air missile hit one of its engines, according to military sources at the airport.

No one was injured.

The aircraft had just taken off when it was hit by the SAM-7, sources said. One of the engines was set on fire, which was extinguished after the plane landed, the sources said.

Missiles have been fired several times at planes approaching the airport, Arraf said but Saturday's incident was the first time a fixed-wing aircraft had been hit.

The U.S. military has stepped up its offensive against the anti-coalition insurgency throughout central Iraq, hammering guerrilla targets in Baghdad, Baquba and other towns in the region where opposition to the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq runs high.

Saturday's attacks come a day after rockets launched from donkey-pulled carts hit the Iraqi Oil Ministry and two heavily guarded hotels.

A U.S. military commander described Friday's attacks as "sensational" but "militarily insignificant."

Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt said the strikes reflected the low-tech ingenuity guerrillas employ in fighting the high-tech might of a coalition struggling for solid grass-roots information about the elusive insurgents.

"No matter how high-tech you are, no matter how proficient you are, no matter how professional your soldiers are ... we are still dependent to a great degree on actionable intelligence," said Kimmitt, the coalition's deputy chief of operations.

Speaking to reporters, Kimmitt said intelligence-gathering was "getting better every day" but was not good enough yet.

"Do we have enough actionable intelligence? No. The lack of actionable intelligence, does that allow donkeys to sneak in and fire rockets? Yes."

Calling the insurgents "ingenious," Kimmitt said they were "a very clever enemy who knows that we don't have the best intelligence in the world" and will exploit that weakness.

The rockets were aimed at the Iraqi Oil Ministry and the heavily guarded Palestine Hotel, which houses Western journalists and coalition contractors.

Kimmitt said two to three rockets struck the hotel, where CNN is based. One of the rockets ricocheted off the 16th floor and hit the Sheraton Hotel.

Two people were wounded, one of them a U.S. civilian at the Palestine Hotel who was critically injured. A bellboy at the Sheraton Hotel had minor wounds.

The oil ministry building was hit by seven to 10 rockets, Kimmitt said. There were no known casualties, and the launchers were recovered.

Fifteen rockets were found undetonated nearby.

Later, two more donkey carts loaded with weapons were found at different locations in Baghdad and the weapons were defused, a coalition military official said.

The carts were disguised to look like farmers' carts, with agricultural products stacked on top.

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