Dozens of Iraqi, American servicemembers wounded in suicide attack
FALLUJAH, Iraq — Dozens of Iraqi and American servicemembers were wounded or sickened Wednesday morning in a complex attack on the Fallujah Government Center.
Iraqi police and army soldiers thwarted two suicide bombers driving trucks containing chlorine in an attempt at striking the facility in the heart of downtown Fallujah, U.S. military officials said.
The coordinated attack began at 6:33 a.m. near the compound with mortar fire, followed by the two truck bombs and small-arms fire, said Marine 1st Lt. Barry Edwards, a spokesman for U.S. Marine Regimental Combat Team 6.
Iraqi police fired on both of the trucks, causing them to detonate near the entrance of the compound, according to a Multi National Force-West public affairs news release.
Several Iraqi soldiers and U.S. forces were wounded by shrapnel, Edwards said. Dozens of others were treated for exposure to chlorine after complaining of symptoms such as difficulty breathing, nausea, skin irritation and vomiting. In all, the wounded and those treated for exposure to chlorine included 53 Iraqi soldiers, four Iraqi police, 14 U.S. servicemembers, and one civilian, Edwards said.
The wounded and sick were treated at the 2nd Iraqi Army Brigade’s aid station and a coalition medical facility, the release stated.
Wednesday’s chlorine gas attack was the eighth launched since Jan. 28, when a suicide bomber driving a dump truck filled with explosives and a chlorine tank struck a quick-reaction force and Iraqi police in Ramadi, killing 16 people, according to The Associated Press.
U.S. military officials have linked the chlorine bomb attacks to the al-Qaida in Iraq group, and are said to be relatively easy weapons for insurgents to make.
The response of the Iraqi security forces in Fallujah on Wednesday is “another indication of the progress that is being made by the Iraqi army and Iraq police,” Edwards said. “The alertness of the Iraqi security forces saved lives today.”
The Wednesday attack was the second large-scale assault in the area this week. According to a RCT-6 news release, on Monday afternoon U.S. soldiers in Karmah — next to Fallujah — “repelled a coordinated attack on a Coalition post, including two suicide truck bombs.”
The battle began when a soldier from the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment (Airborne), attached to 3rd Battalion, 509th Infantry Regiment (Airborne), fired at a water truck attempting to barrel into the compound. The truck, apparently packed with explosives, detonated, officials said.
Immediately after the explosion, some 30 insurgents fired at the compound using small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars.
The U.S. troops returned fire with small arms, mortars and artillery fired from Camp Fallujah.
Five minutes into the battle, the troops fired at a dump truck following the same path as the previous suicide truck bomber, causing it to also detonate.
U.S. military officials said as many as 15 insurgents were killed in the battle. Eight U.S. soldiers were wounded in the attack, officials said. One soldier was evacuated to a U.S. medical facility and the other seven were treated and returned to duty.