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Explosion Hits Baghdad Hotel
VOA News
17 Mar 2004, 17:41 UTC

 
A large explosion has ripped through a hotel in central Baghdad, and witnesses report there are many casualties.

Journalists at the scene saw bodies being carried away from the blast site, where a large fire burned after the explosion.

The powerful blast left a large crater at the site of the hotel, which is near the Baghdad square where a large statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled down by U.S. troops after the Iraqi leader was ousted in last year's war.

The blast came on the day the U.S. military began a new operation to combat anti-coalition insurgents in Baghdad with a raid on a sprawling market in the al-Bayaa district.

A spokesman for the U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division said the operation - code named "Iron Promise" - was organized to disrupt insurgent activity and seize explosives and other weapons used to attack coalition troops and civilians.

The operation will involve hundreds of Iraqi Civil Defense Corps troops and thousands of U.S. soldiers backed by helicopters and armored vehicles.

The latest anti-insurgent operation comes after several days of attacks against Iraqi security personnel and foreign and Iraqi civilians seen as working with the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.



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