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Rocket Attack Hits US Embassy in Iraq  01/27 06:16

   A nighttime rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad injured at least 
one embassy personnel member, staffers there said Monday.

   BAGHDAD (AP) -- A nighttime rocket attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad 
injured at least one embassy personnel member, staffers there said Monday.

   The two staff members, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were 
not authorized to brief the media, did not specify the injured person's 
nationality or the severity of their wounds. They said the rocket slammed into 
a restaurant inside the embassy compound.

   Violent clashes between Iraqi security forces and anti-government protesters 
also continued to seethe overnight, with one protester shot dead in a violent 
crackdown in the country's south.

   The U.S. Embassy is within the Iraqi capital's Green Zone, and has been a 
flashpoint amid wider regional tensions between the U.S. and Iran, which have 
played out inside Iraq in recent weeks. Iraqi supporters of an Iran-backed 
militia stormed the embassy compound on Dec. 31, smashing the main door and 
setting fire to the reception area.

   At least five katyusha rockets landed inside the Green Zone on Sunday, 
according to a U.S. military statement. It was the third rocket attack 
targeting the U.S. Embassy this month, and the perpetrators were not 
immediately known. Previous attacks caused no injuries. 

   The U.S. has accused Iran-backed militias of targeting U.S. interests by 
attacking military bases housing Americans and diplomatic missions. 

   Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi condemned the attack in a statement, 
asserting Iraq's commitment to protecting diplomatic missions in the country. 

   Iraq has been roiled by over four months of demonstrations criticizing 
alleged government corruption, high unemployment and Iranian influence in Iraqi 
politics. Security forces have killed at least 500 protesters. The country is 
also facing a political clash over naming the next prime minister.

   The latest protester's death came amid a violent pre-dawn crackdown by 
security forces on a protest camp in the southern city of Nasiriyah, an 
activist and a medical official said. The official spoke on condition of 
anonymity in line with regulations.

   Police fired live rounds to disperse crowds from a central square in 
Nasiriyah where protesters were staging a sit-in, prompting demonstrators to 
flee. The encampment site was later burned. It was not immediately clear 
whether security forces or unknown groups had torched it. The city has been a 
frequent flashpoint in the protest movement.


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