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Rockets Hit Hotel Test 5 - 2003-10-27


Rockets struck the Al-Rasheed Hotel in Baghdad early Sunday causing an unknown number of casualties. Deputy U.S. Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who has been visiting the Iraqi capital, described the attack as a desperate act.

The attack occurred about six o'clock Sunday morning, when six to eight rockets struck the west side of the Al-Rasheed hotel, which faces a large park. Dozens of the hotels windows were shattered.

The U.S. military says there were an unspecified number of injuries and at least three people were seen being carried away on stretchers. The hotel houses many American military and civilian employees.

Shortly after the incident U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz described the rocket attack as a desperate act of a dying regime of criminals.

"The criminals who are trying to destabilize this country, abused and tortured Iraq for 35 years, and we have ended that mass oppression," said Mr. Wolfowitz. "There are a few who refuse to accept the reality of a new and free Iraq. We will be unrelenting in our pursuit of them. As the President has said, we are taking this fight to the enemy."

Mr. Wolfowitz, who was not injured in the rocket attack, said the United States would not abandon its effort to bring stability to Iraq. He said the terrorists would not deter the American mission in Iraq, which he said is to help the Iraqi people free themselves from the type of criminals who carried out the attack against the Al-Rasheed hotel.

The hotel is located in an area tightly controlled by the U.S. military and is near the headquarters of the Coalition Provisional Authority.

The Al-Rasheed came under a similar attack with three small rockets on September 27. That attack resulted only in minor damage.

The luxury hotel was opened in 1982 for a summit of nonaligned nations and was considered Baghdad's main guesthouse for visiting dignitaries.

The Al-Rasheed was owned by the Iraqi government and was taken over by American forces in April when they moved into the capital.

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