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Massive blasts at U.S. base in Iraq
Updated: 2004-06-03 16:31

Massive explosions rocked a major U.S. military base outside the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk Wednesday, shrouding the city in smoke, after what police said was a rocket strike on an arms store.

Shells and rockets screamed into the night sky over the base at Kirkuk's main airport and thick smoke rolled across the whole area, a Reuters reporter said from the scene.

The initial blast around 10 p.m. was followed by sirens on the base and mayhem that was continuing an hour and half later.

"You can see rockets flying and landing all over the base," reporter Adnan Hadi said from a vantage point some 500 yards from the base perimeter. "The windows of buildings close to the base have all been shattered."

Loudspeaker announcements could be heard on the base warning troops to stay under cover.

U.S. military spokesmen in Baghdad said they were unaware of the incident. U.S. officials in Kirkuk could not be reached.

"A Katyusha rocket hit an arms store," district police chief Borhan Taeb Taheb told Reuters.

Taheb said he knew of no casualties among civilians outside the base, which covers a very wide area. No ambulances or fire trucks were seen moving in the city, which was under curfew.

Kirkuk, 155 miles north of Baghdad, is the industrial hub of Iraq's vital northern oil fields. There has been considerable violence there in recent months, notably between rival communities of Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen.

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