- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 25, 2003

BAGHDAD — An explosion at a market outside Baghdad killed eight Iraqis and wounded 13 others yesterday, hours after a bomb damaged an NBC News office.

The market in Baqubah, about 30 miles north of Baghdad, is believed to have been struck by a mortar, U.S. military spokesman Sgt. Danny Martin said.

Earlier yesterday, a bomb damaged a hotel housing the offices of NBC News, raising fears of attacks against international media. A Somali guard was killed and an NBC sound engineer was slightly wounded in the early-morning explosion at the small al-Aike Hotel in the city’s fashionable Karrada district.

In the north, eight American soldiers were wounded — including three seriously — when their convoy was ambushed with roadside bombs and small-arms fire in Mosul, Iraq.

The tenuous security situation prompted U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan to order a further reduction in U.N. international staff in Iraq after two bombings at U.N. headquarters, including one on Aug. 19 that killed at least 23 persons.

And the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, warned he would use whatever force necessary to defeat those who attack American soldiers.

But use of force has led to “friendly-fire” deaths in Iraq.

The military said U.S. soldiers shot and killed two Iraqi policemen in Fallujah on Aug. 9.

Col. Bill Darley, a spokesman with coalition joint task force, told the Associated Press that an Army investigation found that the soldiers acted in accordance with the rules of engagement. He identified the soldiers as members of the 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry, part of the 1st Armored Division’s 3rd Brigade.

On Sept. 12, U.S. soldiers killed eight Iraqi policemen and a Jordanian hospital guard near Fallujah. The police were chasing a car known to have been involved in highway banditry.

The explosion at the al-Aike Hotel raised fears that insurgents may also begin targeting international media, although U.S. officials said it was not clear whether NBC was the focus. NBC correspondent Jim Avila said there were no signs on the three-story building indicating NBC had quarters there. A dozen NBC staffers were in the building when the explosion took place.

The bomb exploded about 7 a.m. next to the hotel in a small hut housing the generator, killing the Somali night watchman as he slept and wounding Canadian sound engineer David Moodie.

“I was awake,” said Mr. Moodie, who received a deep cut from flying glass. “A chest of drawers in the room fell on me. I sleep in the room immediately above the generator, so I guess I was lucky.”

None of NBC’s 12 employees in Baghdad was leaving, said David Verdi, executive director of NBC News. The network was searching for a new headquarters yesterday he said.

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