BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) # Numerous rockets have slammed into the Baghdad hotel where U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying, injuring several people, coalition officials have told CNN.
As many as eight rockets were fired at the Al Rasheed Hotel # used by many coalition officials # at 6.10 a.m. local time Sunday morning (0610 GMT), officials said.
There were reports of serious injuries, including limb amputations, but Wolfowitz escaped unharmed and was led away from the scene by security forces, said U.S. officials.
Speaking at a press conference after the attack, Wolfowitz said one American may have been killed in the rocket attack on the hotel.
Wolfowitz, a major force behind the Iraq war, was paying his second visit to Iraq in three months and stressed the need to speed up the formation of a new Iraqi army, police force, border guard and civil defense corps.
A “quick reaction force” was dispatched to the scene in response to the attack, the coalition statement said.
There was initial uncertainty as to whether the rounds were rockets or mortars.
Witnesses inside the hotel described hearing a “whooshing” sound before the explosions, suggesting rockets were fired. Mortar rounds are generally silent when approaching a target.
While the attack appeared to come from north of the hotel, small arms fire was reported in the opposite direction, witnesses at the scene told CNN.
A witness at the scene told CNN he saw the car from which the missiles were fired near a busy intersection not far from the hotel.
Fire broke out on one floor and several other floors were also damaged, officials said. The hotel has been evacuated.
Most of the damage was limited to one side of the hotel between floors three and 11 # Wolfowitz was staying on the 12th floor.
Wolfowitz, who was inside the hotel when the rockets hit, said Sunday the U.S. would be “unrelenting” in its mission in Iraq despite attacks which he blamed on “criminals who are trying to destabilize this country.”
The hotel is located close to the Iraqi presidential palace and was built by former leader Saddam Hussein and his elite troops during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
It is now a heavily fortified complex used by coalition officials on the west bank of the Tigris river.