BAGHDAD, Iraq – Insurgents staged a bold daylight assault against a
U.S. combat post north of the capital Monday — first striking with a
suicide car bombing, then firing on soldiers pinned down in a former
Iraqi police station. At least two soldiers were killed and 17 wounded,
the military said.
The head-on attack north of Baghdad was notable for both its tactics
and target. Sunni insurgents have mostly used hit-and-run ambushes,
roadside bombs or mortars on U.S. troops and stayed away from direct
assaults on fortified military compounds to avoid U.S. firepower.
It also appeared to fit a pattern emerging among the suspected Sunni
militants: trying to hit U.S. forces harder outside the capital rather
than confront them on the streets during a massive American-led
“A coordinated attack” is how the U.S. military statement described
the raid on the outpost in Tarmiyah, about 30 miles north of Baghdad.
It added that a suicide car bombing began the fight, but military
authorities declined to give further details.
Witnesses and local authorities offered a fuller picture. The
officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not
authorized to speak to media and feared reprisals.
According to their accounts, at least one car — and possibly others
— rigged with explosives was driven on a kamikaze mission at dawn into
the concrete outer barriers around the Army base, a former Iraqi police
station taken over by American troops late last year.
The blasts ignited stored fuel, they said. Soon, parts of the base
were ablaze and under gunfire, but the size of the insurgent force was
unclear. It also was not known whether the militants suffered
U.S. helicopters evacuated wounded soldiers from the compound —
located in the center of the town of more than 20,000 residents — while
the fight raged, according to the local accounts. By nightfall, U.S.
troops had cordoned off streets around the post.