Insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades, assault rifles and hand grenades roamed the streets of western Baghdad in cars this morning, attacking police patrols in residential areas, an Interior Ministry official said.
Two policemen and three civilians were killed, the official said. Twenty-four civilians and seven policemen were wounded. Two insurgents were arrested and a third was killed.
“It was raining bullets,” a police official in Baghdad told Reuters. He added that a dozen police vehicles had been sent in to try to evacuate forces, but had failed because of the onslaught.
Also today, the deputy justice minister, Awshoo Ibrahim, escaped an assassination attempt when gunmen fired on his convoy in Ghazaliya, west of the capital, killing four of his guards and wounding five.
The mass attack in Baghdad came a day after a suicide bomber killed at least seven people, including an American soldier and an American contractor, when he rushed into a heavily guarded compound in Baquba where officials coordinate emergency response efforts in the region.
Five of the dead, in Baquba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, were Iraqis, including a police officer and four people who worked at the building, the Joint Coordination Center for Diyala Province, the United States military said. Such centers are typically staffed by Iraqi security forces and American soldiers.
But there were conflicting reports about the number of casualties. Early this morning, the BBC, citing information from the Iraqi police, reported that three more Iraqi police officers had been killed in the lunchtime blast, and that three Iraqi special forces soldiers nearby were accidentally shot dead by American soldiers who responded to the attack. An American military spokesman in Tikrit, Staff Sgt. Peter Towse, said early Wednesday that he had no information on that report.
According to the American military, nine American soldiers were wounded, including two who returned to duty on Tuesday evening. One American contractor, six Iraqi civilians and four Iraqi policemen were also wounded.
The terrorist group Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia claimed responsibility for the attack.
West of Baghdad, the American military reported that two marines had been killed in separate bombings by insurgents using explosive devices. One marine was killed Sunday near Karmah, and another was killed Monday near Falluja, the Marines said. The Army also said a soldier had been killed during a rocket attack in south Baghdad on Monday.