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Gunmen storm Iraqi security compound, killing 21
By (Agencies)
Updated: 2004-02-14 16:54

Dozens of guerrillas stormed an Iraqi security compound and a government building, freeing prisoners, in an attack that killed 21 people and wounded 35, police and hospital officials said.

The same compound was attacked two days earlier during a visit by US Gen. John Abizaid.

Up to 50 attackers went from room to room of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps compound in Fallujah, throwing grenades and firing automatic weapons, said one police officer.

The attackers freed around 100 prisoners held in the compound, the officer said on condition of anonymity. It was not known if the prisoners included suspected members of the anti-US insurgency.

The gunmen also attacked the local mayor's office, about a kilometer (half mile) away, police said.

Iraqi security forces traded fire with the attackers in the streets, taking cover behind concrete blocks amid a hail of gunfire. No American forces could be seen. The US command has said American troops could be quickly dispatched to trouble spots to help Iraqi forces as America hands over security to the Iraqis.

Abdul Hamid al-Janabi, a security official at Fallujah hospital, said at least 14 police were among the dead.

Of the 35 wounded, most were policemen, though two women and a child were among the injured, al-Janabi said. Two wounded attackers brought to the hospital were arrested, he said.

``Ambulances are still bringing more people,'' al-Janabi said.

The same ICDC base came under a bold attack on Thursday, when gunmen on nearby rooftops opened fire with rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapons just as Abizaid -- the top US commander in the Middle East -- pulled into the compound in a convoy.

Abizaid escaped unharmed, and there were no US injuries. Iraqi police reported that two Iraqis were killed.

Fallujah, 60 kilometers (36 miles) west of Baghdad, lies in the so-called Sunni Triangle, the heartland of the guerrilla campaign against the US-led occupation. Supporters of the ousted regime of Saddam Hussein and foreign fighters are thought to be leading the insurgency.

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