BAGHDAD - Extremists unleashed
a barrage of more than a dozen mortars or rockets into the Green Zone on
Tuesday, killing at least three people ！ including an American ！ and wounding 18
in an area once considered the safest in the Iraqi capital.
An Iraqi and a "third country national" were also killed in the attack, the
U.S. Embassy said in a statement. The embassy said the 18 wounded included five
Americans ！ two military members and three civilian contract employees.
The 3.5-square-mile district along the Tigris River in the center of Baghdad
includes the U.S. and British embassies as well as Iraq's parliament and the
offices of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
Attacks against the Green Zone have increased in recent months, adding to the
concern over the safety of key Iraqi and international officials who live and
work in the zone.
In a report last month, the United Nations office in Baghdad said the "threat
of indirect fire" ！ meaning rockets and mortars ！ into the Green Zone had
increased, adding that the barrages had become "increasingly concentrated and
The report said such attacks increased from 17 in March to 30 in April and 39
by May 22. Between Feb. 19 and the end of May, at least 26 people were killed in
Green Zone attacks, the report said.
No group claimed responsibility for the barrage, which began after 4 p.m. But
some of the fire appeared to have come from the eastern side of the city where
the Mahdi Army militia of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr operates.
Security officials had warned of a heightened security threat against the
Green Zone following a series of U.S. military operations against Shiite
militias suspected of ties to Iran. In the latest attack, a joint U.S.-Iraqi
force raided parts of Sadr City before dawn Tuesday.
Attacks against the Green Zone have continued despite the Baghdad security
crackdown, which began in mid-February. U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker and the top
military commander Gen. David Petraeus are due to give a preliminary report to
Congress this week outlining progress in efforts to improve security here.
The report is due as opposition to the U.S. mission is increasing in
Congress, even among President Bush's own party.
Attacks against the zone have also renewed concern about security at the new
U.S. Embassy, which is due to open this year within the protected area. The
embassy will be the world's largest and most expensive foreign mission, though
it may not be large enough or secure enough to cope with the chaos in Iraq.
Also Tuesday, at least 46 violent deaths were reported around the country. In
Baghdad, police reported finding the bodies of 23 people tortured and slain,
presumably by Shiite and Sunni death squads which still operate despite the
security crackdown. Sixteen of their bodies were found on the west side of the
city, which is more religiously mixed.
The British military said Tuesday warplanes struck the day before in the
southern town of al-Majar al-Kabir near the Iranian border, killing three
militants suspected of smuggling weapons into Iraq.
Iraqi police officials said a British helicopter strike killed the brother
and two guards of radical Shiite cleric Sheik Abu Jamal al-Fartousi, whom the
British military accused of being a leader in Iran's elite Quds Force suspected
of arming militants.
The U.S. military said American special operations forces in a raid Sunday
captured 12 militants in Baghdad who had broken away from the Mahdi Army and had
carried out attacks on U.S. and Iraqi troops