Mortar Rounds Kill 6 Near Green Zone

The Associated Press
Sunday, April 23, 2006; 1:46 AM

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- About 11 mortar rounds exploded in central Baghdad on Sunday, including three that hit the heavily guarded Green Zone, killing at least six Iraqi civilians and wounding two, police said.

The Iraqis were just entering the Green Zone at about 8 a.m. after making their way through several heavily guarded checkpoints when three mortars exploded just inside it, said police Lt. Maitham Abdul-Razzaq.

He said it was hard to identify the six fatalities because the powerful explosions and shrapnel from the mortars severed their limbs and destroyed their identification cards. But he said one of the wounded Iraqis worked at the Defense Ministry.

A spokeswoman at the U.S. Embassy had no immediate information about the attack, saying officials were still checking to see what had happened.

Iraq's parliament meets inside the compound on the banks of the Tigris River, and it also is home to the Defense Ministry and the U.S. and British embassies.

Other mortar rounds exploded around the same time on the other side of the river near Iraq's Interior Ministry and the Shaab sports stadium, and police were searching the areas to see if any damage or casualties resulted there, police said.

The explosions, which were heard across the city, came one day after Iraq's parliament elected a president, two vice presidents, a parliament speaker and two deputies. The breakthrough in a long political standoff now gives Jawad al-Maliki, the prime minister designate, 30 days to choose a Cabinet from divided Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish parties.

© 2006 The Associated Press