Wire: "Controlled" Explosion North of Baghdad Kills 11 Iraqi Soldiers
Off the Wire:
WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2009 -- Newswire services this morning reported that a controlled explosion of weapons confiscated by the Iraqi military went awry Friday, killing 11 Iraqi soldiers, Iraqi military officials said.
The Associated Press said the blast took place in an area where American and Iraqi forces routinely carry out explosions to destroy weapons seized during raids in and around the northern city of Mosul, which the U.S. military has called the last stronghold of al-Qaida in Iraq.
The incident came as questions continued to be raised about the capabilities of Iraqi security forces a day after 16 prisoners -- including five al-Qaida-linked inmates awaiting execution -- escaped from a jail in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, AP said.
The explosion occurred while the soldiers were preparing the materials for the controlled explosion just east of Mosul, 225 miles (360 kilometers) north of Baghdad, said two military officials.(Report from newswire sources.)
One of the officials said at least 11 soldiers were killed in the blast. Another military official said 15 were killed. Conflicting casualty counts are common in Iraq in the wake of explosions.
Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.
Witnesses said American soldiers had cordoned off the area. The U.S. military did not immediately respond to queries for additional details.