Dutch troops unhurt as explosion rocks Iraqi city
21 June 2004
AMSTERDAM — An explosion and gunfire were heard in the Iraqi city As Samawah shortly after 1am on Monday, but an army spokesman confirmed there were no casualties reported among the Dutch peacekeeping troops stationed in the city.
The explosion took place near the provincial government building in the southern Iraqi city, but it remains unclear if anyone was injured or killed in the blast. Gunfire was heard soon after the explosion.
Fire also broke out, but local firefighters quickly had the blaze under control. Several police cars rushed to the scene of the explosion and helicopters were patrolling the skies above, RTL News reported. The cause of the blast is not yet known.
There have been sporadic incidents of violence and unrest in the region in recent months as both the Dutch base and the headquarters for Japanese troops were targeted in motor attacks.
A militia group loyal to the militant Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr clashed with the Dutch troops and Iraqi security officers in mid-May, the Kyodo news service reported.
In total there are 1,300 Dutch troops stationed in the region to help maintain security and 550 Japanese ground troops. The Japanese are involved in the provision of clean water, medical aid and are assisting in repairing roads and schools.
The Dutch Cabinet resolved on 11 June to extend the nation’s peacekeeping mission for another eight months. There has been one fatality among Dutch troops since they were deployed in Iraq in the summer of 2003.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news