Few details available in Baghdad missile attack
BAGHDAD, Iraq — Military officials are still investigating a failed attack Wednesday on one of its planes in Baghdad, they said Thursday.
A surface-to-air missile was reportedly fired at a C-130 cargo plane on its way into Baghdad International Airport. Military authorities believe the person responsible hurriedly fired the missile outside the huge base and that might have contributed to the fact that it missed its intended target.
The plane’s pilots might have had some role in that miss as well, though.
“Obviously, there are ways to defeat [a missile],” a senior coalition military leader said at a briefing Thursday. His comments were made on the condition of anonymity. “If that weren’t the case, maybe we’d have a different situation.”
He said he didn’t know if the pilots’ actions had proved to be the difference in this particular situation and that would be determined during the investigation.
Military authorities didn’t say where the plane was coming from or if it carried any passengers other than the crew.
Cargo planes are a common sight coming into the airport, bringing in tons of supplies and hundreds of passengers from locations such as Kuwait, Germany and Spain.
The Coalition Provisional Authority has pledged to restore civilian service to the airport as soon as possible. There was talk in June that the service could be started as early as mid-July.
The coalition issued invitations to commercial airlines to submit applications to fly into the airport and reportedly received a heavy response. Meanwhile, contractors have been working feverishly to get the terminal — largely unused since the 1991 Persian Gulf War — into shape.
L. Paul Bremer, the chief administrator for the coalition, said at a news conference earlier this week that there were still several issues, including customs and immigration standards and procedures, that needed to be worked out.
“When we have something to announce, we will announce it,” he said.
That announcement may be delayed now, because the last thing the coalition wants to see is a civilian flight packed with passengers shot down by such a missile at the airport.
“I’m sure it’s a consideration,” the military leader said of a potential delay in starting commercial services. “It’s got to be a consideration.”