Mortars Fired at Italian Embassy in Baghdad
ROME – Several mortars shells were fired Thursday at the Italian Embassy (search) in Baghdad, causing some Iraqi deaths, the Foreign Ministry in Rome said.
No Italians were hurt in the attack, it said.
In Baghdad, an Iraqi police officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The AP that one Iraqi was killed and three were wounded in the attack.
The attack came hours before the arrival in Italy of President Bush for talks with Premier Silvio Berlusconi (search), one of the U.S. administration's staunchest allies in Europe.
The ministry said it did not have details on the number of Iraqis killed or their identities. The ANSA news agency said there were unconfirmed reports of two Iraqi deaths.
The building was not damaged. However, the ministry said, most embassy personnel were being transferred to the heavily guarded Green Zone, the U.S.-led coalition headquarters in central Baghdad.
Security was also being tightened around the embassy, the ministry said.
Last month, mortar shells exploded near the embassy, but the building was not hit. In November, the Italian diplomatic mission was hit and damaged by a rocket or mortar but there were no injuries.
Anti-coalition fighters regularly fire missiles, rockets and rocket propelled grenades against targets in Baghdad.
Italy was one of the strongest supporters of the U.S.-led war against Iraq. It did not send combat troops, but has deployed about 3,000 troops to help rebuild the country, the third-largest contingent in the coalition.