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As many as 75 mortar and rocket rounds struck a U.S. base and nearby neighborhoods as fierce fighting erupted south of Baghdad, the U.S. military said Tuesday.

According to military officials, the insurgent attack started around 2 a.m. Monday, when “Camp Echo and nearby residents of Diwaniyah suffered a barrage of indiscriminate mortar fire and rocket attacks from insurgents operating in the Al Jumuri district.”

About 25 rounds struck inside the perimeter of Camp Echo, wounding three soldiers, officials said. The estimated 50 other rounds landed outside the base, but within populated areas of the city. There were no immediate reports of civilian casualties.

During the barrage, the U.S. military called on a pair of F-16 attack jets to bomb the suspected launch sites.

“The bulk of the attacks were conducted from Salim Street, where insurgents persistently use urban areas from which to attack, in order to use civilians as human shields,” a U.S. military statement read. “Coalition forces are reviewing the incident to ensure that appropriate and proportionate force was used in responding to the intense attack.”

Iraqi media reported that several civilians were killed in the airstrike and indirect fire attacks. News agencies quoted Diwaniyah hospital officials as saying more than a dozen people were killed and 30 wounded.

According to several reports, the fighting touched off protests in the city by people caught in the middle.

Diwaniyah is a mostly Shiite city about 75 miles south of Baghdad and has been the site of heavy fighting in recent months.


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