Wednesday, July 11, 2007

BAGHDAD (AP) — Extremists unleashed a barrage of more than a dozen mortar shells or rockets into the Green Zone yesterday, killing at least three persons, 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. The embassy said the 18 wounded included five Americans — two military members and three civilian contract employees.

The attack against the well-protected nerve center of the U.S. and Iraqi leadership occurred at a time of mounting opposition to the war in Congress and is likely to cast doubts on claims that the U.S. troop buildup is bringing stability to the Iraqi capital.

Attacks against the Green Zone have increased in recent months, adding to the concern about the safety of key Iraqi and international officials who live and work in the 3.5-square-mile district along the Tigris River in the center of Baghdad. The zone includes the U.S. and British embassies as well as Iraq’s parliament and the offices of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

No group took responsibility for yesterday’s barrage, which began after 4 p.m. and sent clouds of white smoke billowing up from inside the Green Zone with each detonation. But some of the fire appeared to have come from the eastern side of the city, where the Mahdi Army militia of Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr operates.

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