Rockets Strike Baghdad Hotel, No Casualties

Published January 09, 2004

| Associated Press

Several rockets struck a hotel used by Western contract workers early Friday, shattering windows and causing other minor damage but no casualties, security guards said.

Two rockets hit the fourth and fifth floors of the Bourj al-Hayat Hotel (search), where U.N. weapons inspectors stayed last year before the Iraq war started in March. A third exploded in the empty hotel pool.

The hotel is in the same compound as the Sindibad Palace Hotel (search), which includes the office of the Kurdish woman minister of public works, Nesreen Berwari. No rockets hit the Sindibad, guards said.

The five-story Bourj al-Hayat also was attacked by rocket-propelled grenades on Christmas Day but there were no injuries. It was one of a series of Christmas attacks launched by insurgents opposed to the American-led occupation.

Hamza Ali, chief of security for the compound, said the attackers drove up in a dark Opel at 6 a.m. and three people emerged, fired three rounds with shoulder-fired launchers and fled. Ali said hotel security had been tipped off about the possibility of an attack Friday but he gave no details.

It was unclear how many people were in the hotel when the latest attack occurred shortly after 6 a.m. The blast and a burst of automatic weapons fire could be heard throughout much of central Baghdad.

Guards said most of the Western contractors staying at the hotel left the country for the Christmas break and have not returned. The blasts shattered glass on two lower floors and around the pool.

Hotels favored by Western contractors and journalists have been attacked several times since the upsurge in violence began last year. A planted bomb damaged a hotel housing the offices of NBC News, killing a Somali guard and slightly injuring an NBC sound technician on Sept. 25.

On Oct. 12, a suicide car bombing near the Baghdad Hotel killed eight people and wounded more than 30. A rocket attack on the Al-Rasheed Hotel (search), used by coalition officials, killed an American lieutenant colonel and injured 18 others. U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was in the hotel, but was unhurt.

The Palestine and Sheraton hotels were hit Nov. 21 by at least six rockets fired from a donkey cart, injuring one person. The Sheraton was rocketed Christmas Eve and again on Christmas Day, injuring an Iraqi woman and her daughter in an apartment house nearby.

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