Missiles Hit Baghdad Phone Exchange

Three rockets struck a major telephone exchange Wednesday, knocking out international phone connections for much of the country only days after the system was put back in service, officials said.

One Iraqi worker was killed and another injured.

Qassim Hadi, an undersecretary with Iraq's Communication Ministry, said the attack happened just after 7:30 a.m. local time at an exchange in the Mansour (search) district west of the Tigris river.

The rockets damaged one of six exchanges that are housed in trailers, said Iraqi police Brig. Gen. Samer Saadoun.

There were no arrests, but police were searching for the attacker.

Hadi said thousands of people with phone service weren't able to make international calls. Domestic calls did not appear to be affected.

He said the exchange would be repaired, but didn't have a timeframe.

Twelve new telephone exchanges in Baghdad (searchwere set up last month, replacing the ones destroyed in the U.S.-led invasion, enabling the Iraqi Telephone and Post Co. provide service for 240,000 lines in and around Baghdad.

An estimated 280,000 lines remained out of service, but that was not related to Wednesday's attack.

A call seeking comment from ITPC by The Associated Press wasn't able to go through.

The new switches were installed by the ITPC and Bechtel, through its subcontractor Lucent Technologies, while Globecomm installed an international gateway that will permit long-distance phone calls.

Most Iraqis use cell phones with prepaid cards to communicate or satellite phones.

The missile attacks came a day after simultaneous homicide bombings on Shiite Muslim shrines in the capital and the holy city of Karbala killed hundreds of people.