US ammo dump ablaze in Iraq

A blaze that destroyed an ammunition dump at a US military base in Baghdad was caused by a mortar attack, a US spokesman has said.

    The loud blasts could be heard across the Iraqi capital

    Iraqi officials said that shells "cooking off" in the fire had crashed down in five districts in the south of the city.

    The munitions store in Forward Operating Base Falcon was still burning on Wednesday, more than 13 hours after the strike set off the blaze that lit up the night sky and spread panic in the Iraqi capital.

    State television showed live pictures of the fire and ordnance exploding skywards.

    US Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Withington said: "It was a mortar round.

    An ammunition holding area caught on fire ... in our operating base in the Rasheed area of the city."

    He said the ammunition store contained tank and artillery rounds as well as small arms ammunition.

    Rare success

    While there were no reports of US casualties, the explosions  marked a rare success for mortar teams working for militia and fighter groups, which rarely cause much damage to well-protected US facilities.

    Military and civilian personnel were evacuated from Forward Operating Base Falcon without injury.

    The Islamic Army in Iraq, one of a number of armed groups operating in the country, said it carried out the attack.

    A statement posted on the group's website read: "The Islamic Army ... [launched] rockets and mortar bombs ... at a base for the occupying American forces."

    Iraqi officials called for calm on state television as loud explosions were heard across the city after the blaze started at about 10.40pm [1940 GMT] on Tuesday night.

    SOURCE: AFP


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.