KIRKOUK, Iraq – A huge blast has caused extensive damage in a Mossad office building in Kirkouk in northern Iraq late on Monday killing and wounding an unspecified number of Mossad agents and civilian Kurds, the Middle East News Agency said yesterday.
US troops and rescue workers were rushed into the devastated building to remove the bodies and take the wounded to a hospital in Mousel, MENA said. The workers have arrived at the site during the night to remove the debris and evacuate the injured persons, the news agency added.
US troops prevented the people from getting closer to the building and imposed a news black out on the cause of the explosion, which occurred in the garage of the building, it said.
The troops wanted to hide the true activities of the office, which the Mossad rented a week ago, and the identities of its occupants, MENA said.
In another development, witnesses said that at least three explosions echoed across Baghdad last night, although the location of the blasts was not clear. The explosions, which sounded like mortar fire, follow a trend of mortar attacks on the US-led administration’s headquarters in central Baghdad in the past 10 days.
Four Iraqis were killed and nine others wounded when a roadside bomb ripped apart a car in the southern city of Basra, while the top US ground commander announced the capture of 20 suspected Al Qaeda members.
In Basra, police Colonel Mohammed Khazim al-Ali said that among those killed were two policemen, while the wounded included several schoolchildren.
The top US ground commander in Iraq, Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, said the coalition had detained 20 people suspected of belonging to the Al Qaeda terror group.
“We have up to 20 suspected Al Qaeda members,” Sanchez said, adding they were still being questioned and had not yet been proven to belong to bin Laden’s organisation.
Meanwhile, Mohannad Ghazi al Kaabi, the area’s top municipal official, died from wounds after troops shot him when he refused to follow security procedures for entering a municipal building, the US military said in a statement.
A US military official told reporters that US jet fighters also bombed a house, near Mahmudiyah, south of the capital apparently used as a base for anti-coalition attacks.
“We used F-16s to precision bomb the house,” said Captain Dan Froehlich, a spokesman for the 82nd Airborne’s Third Brigade.