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BAGHDAD, Iraq — An explosion Sunday evening on the grounds of a Baghdad mosque did not appear to have affected U.S. military personnel, who are not typically stationed on holy grounds.

The explosion, which happened near the famous circle where the statue of Saddam was pulled down during the war, due east of the Palestine Hotel, occurred about 7:30 p.m. local time. Immediately afterward, large puffs of smoke billowed from what appeared to be a building set apart from the mosque itself, but on the grounds.

In the immediate aftermath, U.S. soldiers stationed in a tank at a guard point on the circle across from the mosque said they did not know what caused the fracas.

“I just heard a large explosion,” said a crewmember.

After initial excitement, local Iraqis did not appear particularly concerned; nor were the sounds of ambulance sirens or firetrucks heard in the following hour, although the scent of cordite hung heavy in the evening air for at least an hour afterward.

Although the sound of gunfire is a nightly event in Baghdad, actual explosions of this magnitude are less common.

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