UN says 2 dead in attack near its Iraq compound
By KIM GAMEL,Associated Press Writer AP - Sunday, November 30
BAGHDAD - A rocket struck near a U.N. compound in the heavily fortified Green Zone Saturday, killing two foreigners and wounding 15, according to U.N. and military officials.
The victims were working for a catering company that provides services for the United Nations but their nationalities weren't being released pending notification of relatives, a U.N. official said.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity for providing the information ahead of a formal announcement, earlier said three foreigners were killed but later corrected the number to two.
The U.N. presence in Iraq has been limited since the organization's Baghdad headquarters was bombed on Aug. 19, 2003, killing 22 people,including top U.N. envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello.
Tech. Sgt. Chris Stagner, a U.S. military spokesman, said explosives ordnance teams had determined Iranian-made rockets were used in Saturday's Green Zone attack as well as another strike late Friday against Camp Victory, the main military headquarters on the western outskirts of the Iraqi capital.
The U.S. military accuses Iran of providing weapons, funding and training to Shiite extremists that oppose the U.S. presence in Iraq.
Rocket and mortar attacks against the Green Zone and other U.S. targets, which have been common throughout the Iraq conflict, spiked this spring during clashes with militiamen loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
But they tapered off after al-Sadr declared a cease-fire at the end of weeks of fighting between al-Sadr's Mahdi Army militia and U.S. and Iraqi troops in the capital's Shiite Sadr City district.
Saturday's strike was the first in more than a month against the Green Zone, a sprawling area in central Baghdad that also houses the U.S. Embassy and the Iraqi government headquarters.
The attack comes two days after Iraqi lawmakers approved a security pact with the United States that would let American forces stay in Iraq for three more years. The deal still must be approved by the three-member presidential council.
Al-Sadr and his followers are opposed to the agreement.
Associated Press writer Chelsea J. Carter contributed to this report.
(This version CORRECTS number killed to two and wounded to 15, per UN official's own revision)
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