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MORTARS FIRED ON BAGHDAD’S GREEN ZONE

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Gunmen fired, on Tuesday 09/15/2009, several mortars at Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone government district shortly after USA Vice President Joe Biden arrived to meet Iraqi leaders. According to Reuters, Iraqi police said two out of four suspected mortar rounds landed near the American embassy compound in the Green Zone, but did not hit it. Biden had met with the USA ambassador, Chris Hill, and the senior USA military commander, General Ray Odierno, just before the mortar strikes (see also – Winning Strategy ).

Joe Biden was safe in an undisclosed location, aides said. It was Biden’s second trip to Iraq in three months.

A briefing for journalists by Hill and Odierno was interrupted by the sound of blasts.

After his meeting with Hill and Odierno, Biden said a national election in January was the key to resolving those differences. “I think a successful election is the necessary condition for those outstanding political questions to be resolved … most of the parties … feel the same way,” Biden said.

After few hours a joint US-Iraqi force arrested three Iraqis along with three rocket rails believed to have been used to fire the shells in the outskirt of the Shiaa Sadr City neighborhoods.

The three are believed to be Shiite militants who broke away from anti-American cleric Muqtada Sadr’s now dissolved Mahdi Army.

A Sunni insurgent group, the Mujahideen Army, also claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement Wednesday on Islamic militant Web sites, saying the rocket-fire was “a reception for Biden, the head of infidelity.” The authenticity of the claim could not be confirmed.

Joe Biden arrived on the same day that Muntadar al-Zeidi, the Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes at President Bush, on 12/14/2008, was freed from prison (see – Farewll Bush).

Talking to reporters at the offices of Al-Baghdadia TV station, where he works, Muntadar al-Zeidi said, “Here I am, free, but my country remains captive.”
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