BBC World & Uruknet.biz & The Herald – 2006-10-27 23:59:26
VIDEO OF BLAST
Click Here to view Videoclip of Explosion
SLIDESHOW OF CAMP FALCON 3 Months Before the Attack
By Nitrous1 / You Tube.com
Mortar Causes Baghdad Base Fire
BBC World News
(October 11, 2006) — The US military has said that a huge fire at an army base’s ammunitions store in the Iraqi capital was caused by a mortar fired by insurgents. The fire, which set off a series of blasts and explosions at the base, caused no casualties or injuries.
The BBC’s Andrew North, in Baghdad, said the explosions started at about 2300 (2100 BST) on Tuesday night. Blasts from the base, in the city’s south, were heard for miles. The fire continued to burn through the night.
“Intelligence indicates that civilians aligned with a militia organisation were responsible for last night’s mortar attack,” Base spokesman Lt Col Jonathan Withington said.
Earlier, an insurgent group had posted a statement on the internet, claiming responsibility for the attack.
The US military spokesman said that all troops and workers on the base had been safely evacuated to bomb shelters to protect them from the blasts. He said no-one had been injured in the explosions.
The Iraqi Interior Ministry said the blasts had shaken three neighbourhoods close to the base in the southern district of Doura.
(October 20, 2006) — The first live reports were aired live on US network TV: We’re getting some amazing pictures, some very dramatic pictures coming out of Iraq to us from Baghdad. You can read the lower third there. “Explosions rock Camp Falcon just outside of Baghdad.” It is 11:28 p.m. there right now.
MSNBC News bureau in Baghdad, the bureau chief said there have been a series of explosions near the Camp Falcon area located just outside of Baghdad, and CPIC is confirming that there was an explosion at an ammo dump, which would explain these amazing dramatic pictures in the night sky of Baghdad. It exploded at Camp Falcon. The U.S. military base is south of Baghdad. (MNSBC, 10 Oct, 2006)
Following these earlier live reports, there has been a virtual media blackout on the casualties and losses resulting from this attack on the ammunition holding area at Forward Operating Base Falcon.
The official DoD report emanating from US Central Command (Release Number: 06-01-01PS, Oct 12, 2006) casually dismisses the attack by the Iraqi resistance, describing the explosion as having minimal impact with no reported casualties:
FOB FALCON, Iraq — Less than 24 hours after enemy 82mm mortar rounds hit an ammunition holding area, causing a torrent of explosions and fires that continued to smolder through the next day, life on Forward Operating Base Falcon has retuned to normal.
Despite triggering multiple explosions and causing fire crews to work overtime, there were no casualties, and little damage was sustained to the buildings and vehicles positioned throughout the large military base located in Baghdad”s Doura neighborhood, said Col. Michael Beech, commander, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
With the help of seven Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams, the Soldiers at FOB Falcon were quickly able to locate and dispose of all unexploded ordnance near the explosion site, which enabled business to return to normal Thursday morning.
“Ultimately, this incident has had a minimal effect on my brigade’s operations within the last 24 hours,” Beech said. “This attack did not effect ongoing Baghdad security operations in our area of responsibility, and the loss of ammunition will not degrade the operational capability of the 4th Brigade Combat Team.
The most damage occurred in areas directly surrounding the large steel shipping containers that held the various types of tank, artillery and small-arms ammunition, he said.
“Currently, we have cleared all the areas that are necessary for the maneuver units to use to be able to conduct normal operations,” said Maj. Mark Crussow, operations officer, 3rd EOD Battalion, attached to the 4th Inf. Div.
“Our focus now is to secure the ammunition holding area and dispose of anything we feel poses a threat to personnel on the FOB,” he said.
The seven ordnance disposal teams from the 3rd EOD Bn. are working from dawn to dusk and have already disposed of several hundred pounds of explosives deemed unstable. All other areas except those within about 1,000 feet of the explosion site have been completely secured, he said.
At the time of the attack at approximately 10:40 p.m. Tuesday, base personnel went to full alert as attack aviation and unmanned aerial vehicles flew overhead in an attempt to locate the terrorists” mortar position.
One of the mortar shells, more than likely, struck a portion of the holding area designated for storing flares, or munitions used for illumination, and ignited a fire, which then caused the ammunition to explode, said Staff Sgt. Evan Ort, ammunitions specialist, Company A, 704th Support Battalion, 4th BCT.
Ort, the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the ammunition holding area, said at least 15 containers went unscathed during the incident.
Further assessments will be made once the quarantined area around the site is secured, said Ort, while searching for ordnance Thursday with other Soldiers from the 704th Support Bn.
Sgt. Peter Schmitt, petroleum specialist, Company B, 704th Support Bn., recounted the incident and said all the necessary steps were taken to ensure the safety of the Soldiers living on the FOB.
“It was definitely crazy to watch. Anyone living near the site was evacuated to a safe location until everything was secure,” Schmitt said, speaking about the explosion that sent flames and a rainfall of sparks into the night sky.
Soldiers and base employees were moved immediately to the safety of hardened buildings and structures on the base, Schmitt explained.
Schmitt said he was able to see the explosions from his barracks but quickly helped evacuate Soldiers to a safe building several thousand feet away.
“As bad as everything sounded when this incident first happened, it turns out not to be as bad as I thought,” said Command Sgt. Maj. John Moody, 4th BCT, 4th Inf. Div., during a visit to FOB Falcon Thursday.
“Our Soldiers are doing a great job with recovery, and I think the fact that something like that can happen to this brigade, and we can rebound so quickly says a lot about the kind of Soldiers we have,” he continued. “This event has had a minimal impact on our mission and what we do.”
General Cadwell in a DoD briefing in Baghdad (Oct 12, 2006) made the following statement:
First of all, I’ll take on the Falcon attack. And it was caused by indirect fire, a mortar that did in fact hit our ammunitions supply point there, which caused a tremendous amount of secondary and tertiary explosions that occurred throughout the night there. There’s that one articular area which fled into another area — did in fact go off all night.
Very fortunately, no coalition forces or Iraqi security forces were injured, nor civilian casualties that anybody’s aware of at this point. We lost some munitions, but took no personnel casualties.
The exact group that’s responsible, we’re still investigating. Obviously, we’re trying to link that back to a particular element that may have been involved, and at this point it would be inappropriate to really talk about it because obviously targeting is going on as they’re continuing to work that because of some leads that they’ve been able to pick up at this point.”
Copyright US DoD, 2006
Online Comment on the Preceeding Story.
Several reports suggest that the attack had the features of a major military operation, which does not fit the pattern of media reporting out of Iraq, which invariably presents an “insurgency” involved in isolated and uncoordinated guerrilla attacks by socalled “terrorist” groups.
There are indicaitons that the official reports are hiding the truth.
Given the nature of the blast, which generated a mushroom-type explosion, there is reason to believe that the losses and human casualities were substantial.
The attack suggests that the protected International Zone (IZ), the socalled Green Zone is no longer secure and that US forces are no longer in control.
Major Gun Battles Rock Baghdad
BAGHDAD (October 15, 2006) — Last Tuesday night in Baghdad, the Iraqi skyline was lit up. In what was believed to be one of the most sustained and ferocious mortar and rocket attacks in three years, there was widespread fear among senior US military personnel that the protected international zone (IZ), formerly the “green zone,” was about to experience a direct assault.
Major gun battles were being fought in two of Baghdad’s districts — Doura and Mansoor. Doura has a large oil refinery, Mansoor is technically an affluent area close to the IZ. Gunfire and explosions were louder than normal and then, at around 7pm, the first large rocket landed inside the IZ itself. Another hit came after 10 minutes, then another two minutes later.
Then a series of different to the daily “normal” rocket attacks, were felt. For those in the IZ, the explosions were so close and so fierce that, even for experienced military personnel, “you could taste the cordite in your teeth.” The sustained attacks lasted for two hours, during which Camp Falcon, a major US ammunition and storage dump, was hit.
The attack resulted in what one security official called “a fireworks display”. But the display wasn’t put on for entertainment. Immediate military feedback pointed to casualties. With the IZ in blackout mode, specific troop and tanks movements were ordered, said to be a precautionary defensive measure.
But there was high-level concern that the fireworks would be followed by something the US military fears — a large-scale assault on the IZ itself. Helicopters were all over the place trying to figure out what was happening and where the attacks were coming from. Tuesday in Baghdad wasn’t a good night if you needed to sleep.
The official US military line on Tuesday night was that fire had broken out at the weapons dump in southern Baghdad and that “ammunition cooking off” had caused the explosions.”
There were no official reports of casualties. The Iraqi interior ministry added little, saying only that neighbourhoods close to the Falcon forward operating base in Doura had been “shaken”.
Copyright The Herald 2006
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