Blast rocks Green Zone in central Baghdad

A loud explosion rocked central Baghdad on Saturday, prompting sirens and loudspeaker warnings in the international Green Zone and sending up a large plume of white smoke inside the heavily fortified area.

Loudspeaker warnings urged people to take cover. “This is not a drill,” the warning said.

Several people in the Green Zone said they had heard what may have been a mortar or rocket go past, but could not say where it landed.

A double rocket attack on the Green Zone wounded six people earlier this week. The area, which stretches over several square kilometres (miles) houses Iraqi government offices, embassies and other foreign facilities.

Mortars and rockets frequently hit the area and usually do not cause casualties.

Saturday’s loud blast shook windows across the river from the Green Zone in the central district of Karrada.