Militiamen firing mortars detonated a US ammunition dump in Baghdad on Tuesday night, sparking a barrage of explosions that continued to shake the capital yesterday morning, a US military spokesman said.
Residents said the blasts were reminiscent of the aerial bombardment of Baghdad that preceded the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.
A mortar round fired from the Abu Dsheer area of southern Baghdad caused the fire in an ammunition holding area in Camp Falcon, a forward operating base for US troops, that ignited tank, artillery and small-arms ammunition, the spokesman said.
"Intelligence indicates that civilians aligned with a militia organization were responsible for last night's mortar attack," said Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Withington, spokesman for the US 4th Infantry Division.
Withington said there were no reports of casualties among soldiers on the base or Iraqi civilians in neighbouring districts.
He did not identify the militia organization but residents of Abu Dsheer, a mostly Shi'ite area in the Sunni district of Doura, said the Mehdi Army militia of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr was a growing presence in the area.
The Islamic Army in Iraq, one of a number of militant groups operating in the country, had earlier claimed responsibility for the attack in a website posting.
The fire sent flames and showers of sparks into the night sky and triggered dozens of explosions that shook buildings several kilometres away in central Baghdad.
"The fire is still smouldering and rounds are continuing to cook off," Withington said. Three battalions are based at Camp Falcon, along with Abrams main battle tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and Strykers.
Source: China Daily