Monday, February 19, 2007

Insurgents attack U.S. outpost at police station in Tarmiyah as truck bomb ignites fuel, followed by gun battles; 2 dead, 17 wounded

Above: Soldiers look over the wall of the roof of the Joint Coordination Center in Tarmiyah in this photo from November.

Insurgents staged a bold daylight assault against a U.S. combat post Monday - first striking with a suicide car bombing, then firing on soldiers pinned down in a former Iraqi police station. At least two soldiers were killed and 17 wounded, the military said.

The head-on attack north of Baghdad was notable for both its tactics and target. Sunni insurgents have mostly used hit-and-run ambushes, roadside bombs or mortars on U.S. troops and avoided direct assaults on fortified military compounds to avoid U.S. firepower.

It also appeared to fit a pattern emerging among the suspected Sunni militants: trying to hit U.S. forces harder outside the capital rather than confront them on the streets during a massive American-led security operation.

"A coordinated attack" is how the U.S. military statement described the raid on the outpost in Tarmiyah, about 30 miles north of Baghdad. It added that a suicide car bombing began the fight, but military authorities declined to give further details.

Witnesses and local authorities offered a fuller picture. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to media and feared reprisals.

According to their accounts, at least one car - and possibly others - rigged with explosives was driven on a kamikaze mission at dawn into the concrete outer barriers around the Army base, a former Iraqi police station taken over by American troops late last year.

The blasts ignited stored fuel, they said. Soon, parts of the base were ablaze and under gunfire, but the size of the insurgent force was unclear. It also was not known whether the militants suffered casualties.

U.S. helicopters evacuated wounded soldiers from the compound - located in the center of the town of more than 20,000 residents - while the fight raged, according to the local accounts. By nightfall, U.S. troops had cordoned off streets around the post.

Read the rest at AOL News

Iraqi police said a suicide bomber at the wheel of a fuel tanker blew himself up as U.S. forces entered an Iraqi police station in the town of Tarmiya, which U.S. troops use as an outpost.

The town is a Sunni Arab insurgent stronghold some 40 km (25 miles) north of Baghdad in the notoriously violent province of Salahaddin.

U.S. military helicopters hovered over the area transporting the wounded after the blast, which almost demolished the police station. A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad declined to provide more specific information on the attack, a rare coordinated assault on a U.S. base.

"It was not just a spontaneous attack. It wasn't just people taking potshots at us," Major Steven Lamb told Reuters.

A U.S. military statement said U.S. soldiers secured the area and evacuated the wounded. It was not known if any insurgents were killed.

Read the rest at Reuters/Alternet

Related Link:
Report: Sunni insurgents streaming north from Baghdad into Diyala province