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Officials Determine Mortar Caused Fire at Ammo Holding Area

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2006 – An 82mm mortar round fired by militia forces from a nearby residential area caused yesterday’s fire at a Baghdad ammunition holding area around 10:40 p.m., officials with Multinational Division Baghdad announced today.

The fire ignited tank, artillery and small-arms ammunition at a forward operating base in the central Rasheed district of Baghdad.

"Intelligence indicates that civilians aligned with a militia organization were responsible for last night's mortar attack," Army Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington, a spokesman for Multinational Division Baghdad, said.

At the time of the attack, base personnel went to full alert. Attack aviation and unmanned aerial vehicles flew overhead in an attempt to locate the terrorists' mortar position. Soldiers and base employees were moved immediately to the safety of hardened buildings and structures on the base.

Firefighters from the base and hazardous material experts will continue to work toward extinguishing the fire, U.S. officials said. Engineers and explosive ordnance disposal teams will begin to clear unexploded ordnance on the base to facilitate follow-on engineer cleanup efforts.

The attack does not effect ongoing Baghdad security operations in the focus areas, and the loss of the ammunition will not degrade the operational capability of Multinational Division Baghdad, officials said.

The base' essential services were not disrupted, and all life support remains in place. No injuries were reported.

(From a Multinational Corps Iraq news release.)

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