Green Zone shelled in central Baghdad - insurgents raged

Insurgents shelled today the heavily fortified Green Zone and other parts of central Baghdad. More than 400 suspects were captured during the offensive to take control over the northern town of Tal Afar.

Two mortar rounds exploded near a military hospital inside the Green Zone that houses the Iraqi government, parliament, the U.S. and other foreign missions, police said.

Security inside the zone was boosted earlier this month after reports that suicide bombers were trying to penetrate the area, which is a frequent target for insurgent attacks.

Police said at least two other rounds exploded in downtown Baghdad.

Meanwhile, U.S. commanders in Tal Afar said that over 400 suspected rebels were in custody as a result of recent offensive there. The Iraqi military reported on Tuesday that its troops had detained 36 more rebels, including a Yemeni citizen, just south of Tal Afar.

"This operation was very precise. We've had access to all the terrorist safe havens," said Brig. General Muhsen Yahya, commander of the Iraqi Army's 1st Brigade in Tal Afar.

On Monday, officials said the insurgent death toll in three days of fighting in Tal Afar totaled 200. Seven Iraqi soldiers and six civilians also died, while the U.S. military said no American soldiers were hurt.

Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari flew to Tal Afar on Monday to congratulate his army, and Al-Iraqiya state television said he went despite insurgent threats "to attack the city with chemical and biological weapons."

It should be mentioned that militants made two Internet postings in recent days vowing to stage chemical attacks on the Green Zone, the AFP reports.

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