Twelve people were killed yesterday when suicide bombers attacked a military headquarters in Baghdad – two weeks after an attack on the same base pointed to the failure of Iraqi forces to plug even the most obvious holes in their security.
Iraqi soldiers were helped to repel the attack by American troops who were training them at the compound at Rusafa, in the east of the capital.
It was the first time US forces had been involved in an exchange of gunfire in Baghdad since they officially ended combat operations in Iraq less than a week ago.
In a brazen assault at noon, the attackers set off a car bomb and managed to fight their way inside the compound before being killed.
A spokesman for the Iraqi military, Major-General Qassim al-Moussawi, said 12 people died and 36 were wounded. Five Iraqi soldiers were among the dead.
A car laden with explosives drove at the building and blew up. Gunmen then assaulted the headquarters, battling the guards in a 15-minute firefight, according to police who said at least three militants were wearing explosive belts. The bombers ran to the entrance but were shot by the guards before they could detonate their devices. One wounded attacker was taken into custody.
On 17 August, a suicide bomber linked to al-Qa'ida blew himself up at the same base, killing 61 army recruits in the deadliest act of violence in Baghdad in months.