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Wolfowitz Unhurt, US Undeterred in Baghdad Hotel Attack - 2003-10-26


A rocket attack on a hotel in downtown Baghdad has killed one American soldier and wounded 15 other people.

U.S. officials in Iraq say the attack on the al-Rashid Hotel took place early today (shortly after 6 a-m local time). Among the wounded are seven American civilians, four U.S. soldiers, and four civilians from non-coalition countries.

A coalition spokeswoman said at least six rockets struck the large heavily-guarded building, which is home to many U.S. military personnel and civilians stationed in Iraq.

Officials say at least 20 rockets were fired from a launcher disguised as a two-wheeled power generator commonly used by construction workers. The launcher was on a busy street 500 meters away from the building. Officials say the rockets were apparently launched using a timing device, triggered as the attackers fled. Eleven rockets failed to fire.

The explosions damaged several floors of the tall building. It was evacuated and a tight security perimeter was established in the area.

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who was inside the hotel at the time, but emerged unhurt, says the incident will not deter the U.S. mission to stabilize Iraq and protect Americans helping rebuild the country.

Mr. Wolfowitz, who is on the third day of his visit to Iraq, condemned the attack as terrorism. He said Iraq will remain at risk, as long as there are criminals prepared to carry hit-and-run attacks.

Mr. Wolfowitz also said an increasing number of Iraqis are joining coalition forces to fight loyalists of ousted leader Saddam Hussein.

The al-Rashid Hotel is located on the western side of the Tigris River, not far from the headquarters of the U.S. - led Coalition Provisional Authority. The entire area has been under heavy security.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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