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U.S. Commander Not Hurt in Mideast Attack

February 12, 2004

FALLUJAH, Iraq (AP) _ Gen. John Abizaid, commander of all U.S. forces in the Middle East, escaped injury in a gun-battle Thursday at a local headquarters of a U.S.-sponsored Iraqi security force.

No U.S. soldiers and no one in Abizaid’s traveling party were injured.

Just moments after a convoy carrying Abizaid and his party pulled inside the cinderblock walls at the headquarters of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps in this city west of Baghdad, an explosion rang out.

Seconds later, two more explosions were heard near the rear of the compound, and U.S. soldiers responded with a barrage of rifle and machinegun fire.

Several attackers fired three rocket-propelled grenades, and another pelted the party with small arms fire from a nearby mosque. The gun battle that lasted about six minutes.

Abizaid was accompanied by Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack, commander of the 82nd Airborne Division. After the gun battle, Abizaid and Swannack canceled plans to walk into the city and instead returned to a U.S. military base near here.

It was not immediately clear whether the attackers were killed in the exchange.

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