Insurgents today killed five people and wounded 18 others after breaching the heavy fortifications of Baghdad's green zone, setting off bombs they had carried into an outdoor market and a cafe.
Initial information indicated the attacks were a suicide operation. If so, it would be the first time that insurgents have struck from within the heavily guarded compound, home to the British and US embassies and Iraqi government offices.
A group loyal to Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for the attacks in a statement on a website.
A spokesman for the 1st Cavalry Division said the blasts appeared to be caused by "hand-carried explosives". They sent a large plume of thick, black smoke rising from the zone, home to about 10,000 Iraqis alongside US troops and international officials and contractors.
The green zone is a regular target for insurgents, who have frequently fired mortar rounds at the compound. There have been a number of deadly car bombings at its gates. Last week, officials said an improvised bomb was found in front of the Green Zone Cafe but was defused.
Late last night, the foreign office issued a warning advising British nationals to stay away from the cafe in light of the attempted bombing. After today's blasts, the US embassy strongly encouraged Americans living or working in the green zone to limit their movements, travel in groups, carry several means of communication and avoid the bazaar and restaurants inside the compound. ? Source
Some estimates conclude that the total number of terrorists in Iraq prior to the American invasion was perhaps in the hundreds. Now, analysts generally agree that the number is ten to twenty thousand, if not more.
IMO, Zarqawi has used the war zone as an opportunity to tweak his skill in targeting US troops. Today marked an ominous first: an attack in the heavily fortified Green Zone.
To enter and get as far as the targets were today, one must pass several check points... past highly trained and armed American troops. I hope this doesn't mean what I think it may mean.