Iraqi insurgents Saturday launched car bomb attacks against two Iraqi police stations north of Baghdad # killing at least 19 Iraqi police and civilians # and fired a surface-to-air missile at a courier plane at Baghdad’s airport, according to U.S.-led coalition officials.
No one was injured in the airport attack, which marked the first time since the declaration of the end of major combat on May 1 that a fixed-wing aircraft had been hit by a missile.
Shortly before 8 a.m. (12 a.m. EST), a suicide car bomber killed at least nine Iraqis and himself at a police station in Khan Bani Sa’ad, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of the Iraqi capital, according to coalition military officials.
Ten Iraqi civilians were injured in the attack, U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. George Krivo said.
Three hours later, another explosion was reported near the same police station, wounding at least two children # one with a critical head injury # witnesses told CNN.
Also around 8 a.m., a car bomb hit the Ba’quba police station about 80 km north of Baghdad, killing at least 10 Iraqis # six police, four civilians # according to senior deputy Interior Minister and Iraqi police chief Gen. Ahmed Kadhim Ibrahim.
Krivo said 15 to 20 Iraqis were injured in the Ba’quba attack, mostly police.
In Khan Bani Sa’ad, a huge crater was left in front of the police station where the car bomb detonated.
The attacker drove a vehicle laden with explosives at high speed into the station, prompting Iraqi police to fire AK-47s at his vehicle, which detonated, McCormick said.
Six Iraqi police, six civilians and the driver died in the attack, coalition military officials said. Ten other Iraqis were wounded. No coalition soldiers were injured in either attack.
Also on Saturday morning, a DHL courier plane landed safely at Baghdad International Airport after a heat-seeking, surface-to-air missile hit one of its engines, according to military sources at the airport. No one was injured.
The aircraft had just taken off when it was hit by the SAM-7, sources said. One of the engines was set on fire, which was extinguished after the plane landed, the sources said.
A military source said the missile had a one-pound warhead # not large enough to bring down a large aircraft, but enough to cause damage.
Missiles have been fired several times at planes approaching the airport, CNN’s Jane Arraf said but Saturday’s incident was the first time a fixed-wing aircraft had been hit.
The U.S. military has stepped up its offensive against the anti-coalition insurgency throughout central Iraq, hammering guerrilla targets in Baghdad, Ba’quba and other towns in the region where opposition to the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq runs high.
Saturday’s attacks come a day after rockets launched from donkey-pulled carts hit the Iraqi Oil Ministry and two heavily guarded hotels.
Two people were wounded, one of them a U.S. civilian at the Palestine Hotel, which houses Western journalists and coalition contractors. A bellboy at the Sheraton Hotel had minor wounds.
The oil ministry building was hit by seven to 10 rockets, a U.S. military commander said. There were no known casualties, and the launchers were later recovered.
Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt described Friday’s attacks as “sensational” but “militarily insignificant.”
He said the strikes reflected the low-tech ingenuity guerrillas employ in fighting the high-tech might of a coalition struggling for solid grass-roots information about the elusive insurgents.
“No matter how high-tech you are, no matter how proficient you are, no matter how professional your soldiers are … we are still dependent to a great degree on actionable intelligence,” said Kimmitt, the coalition’s deputy chief of operations.