Insurgents unleashed their most intense mortar attack to date on the Green Zone on Tuesday, killing 3 people and wounding 18, according to a statement from the American Embassy.
The attack set off a succession of explosions that could be heard on both sides of the Tigris River about 5:30 p.m. Multiple rounds landed inside the Green Zone, seat of the embassy and the Iraqi government. The attack came from northeast of the Green Zone, a predominantly Shiite area.
The three killed were an American soldier, an Iraqi citizen and a foreign citizen. Five of the wounded were American civilians, two were members of the American military and three were working for American contractors, according to the embassy statement.
The Green Zone is the most fortified area in Baghdad, surrounded by walls and protected by multiple checkpoints operated by American troops and Iraqi security forces. It has always been vulnerable to mortar and rocket attacks, however, and has been attacked almost daily for weeks.
Still, this was a particularly brazen onslaught even by Baghdad standards. Typically, there are no more than a half-dozen mortar explosions at a time. But according to one American official in the Green Zone who spoke on condition of anonymity, the attack may have involved as many as 31 mortar shells.
Given the ease with which insurgents or militias can lob shells into the Green Zone, such attacks are unlikely to get any better. Fortunately they haven't killed even more poeple to this point, but the message from those who are launching the attacks is loud and clear.
UPDATE: This LA Times article discusses the other ways in which our troops in Iraq are unable even to secure themselves, let alone the neighborhoods they hope to defend.