Video: Blasts rock Baghdad suburb

updated 10/11/2006 5:38:17 AM ET 2006-10-11T09:38:17

A massive fire at an ammunition dump at a U.S. base in southern Baghdad was sparked by a mortar round fired by insurgents, which set off a series of explosions from detonating tank and artillery shells that shook buildings miles away, the U.S. military said Wednesday.

The 82mm round was fired from a nearby residential area and hit Forward Operating Base Falcon around 10:40 p.m. Tuesday, spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Withington said. No injuries were reported.

The Islamic Army in Iraq, a nationalist anti-occupation insurgent group, claimed responsibility Wednesday in a statement posted on the Internet.

The U.S. military statement did not mention the claim or name any particular group as a suspect in the fire.

Large flames and smoke rose from the region, and flashes from the blasts and showers of sparks were visible on the horizon from several miles away in central Baghdad, where the force of the blasts could be felt. The blasts came at times sporadically, at times in rapid succession, lasting into the night. Helicopters were seen in the night sky flying over the area.

“There is a lot of ammunition there, but it’s not a full storage depot,” Withington said. “This does not degrade our operational ability at all.”

Falcon is located in a former commercial trucking depot in a sprawling industrial area at the southern entrance of Baghdad. It is near the violence-torn district of Dora, where U.S. troops have been focusing in a 2-month-old sweep of the capital neighborhood-by-neighborhood aimed at rooting out militants and weapons.

It lies on the main highway heading south of Baghdad. Much of the area around it is sparsely populated, but on the opposite side of the highway, about 600 yards away, are residential neighborhoods.

Iraqi military officials said no evacuations of residents were ordered from the Dora area.

Iraqi Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani went on television to reassure residents of the capital.

“The situation is under control,” he said. “There is an alert to security forces to provide any help to the residents of the area. We are waiting for information from the Americans” on the cause, he said.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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