Fuel truck explodes near Baghdad airport | world | Hindustan Times
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Fuel truck explodes near Baghdad airport

world Updated: Oct 05, 2009 11:20 IST
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A fuel tanker exploded on Sunday near a checkpoint outside of Baghdad International Airport, Iraqi officials said, along a route once known as the world's deadliest road because of frequent attacks there during the height of the insurgency.

There were conflicting reports about the cause of the explosion, which wounded at least five guards at the checkpoint. No fatalities were reported.

A police official said a bomb attached to the tanker detonated at the checkpoint on the four-lane road leading to the airport. But airport spokesman Kareem al-Timini said the explosion was an accident that was caused when the driver started a fire to cook breakfast on the side of the road.

The explosion caused four other tankers to catch fire, al-Timini and the police official said.
The tanker caught fire at a checkpoint that also leads to Camp Victory, the US military headquarters next to the airport. Al-Timini said the tanker was part of a fuel convoy on its way to the American base.

But Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Piper, a military spokesman, denied the truck was part of a US convoy or that it was headed to Camp Victory. He said it was headed to the airport.

The cause of the fire was under investigation. "We have conflicting reports on the cause," Piper said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "Eyewitness reports said it was due to the driver cooking under the truck."

The police official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

The road, dubbed "Route Irish" by the US military, connects the fortified Green Zone with the airport. It gained notoriety after the 2003 US-lead invasion because of the frequent attacks along it during the height of the insurgency.

Attacks along the road all but stopped during the past two years as violence declined dramatically in Iraq.

Also Sunday, Iraqi police announced one al-Qaida-linked fugitive was killed and another was arrested in a raid just west of Samarra, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south from where they made a stunning jailbreak late last month.

The two were among five al-Qaida prisoners who had been sentenced to death to break out of a makeshift jail in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. The arrest brings to at least nine the number of prisoners recaptured.

The one fugitive killed on Sunday was resisting arrest, a police official said.

That official also spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

The escape was an embarrassment for Iraqi authorities as they struggle to upgrade detention facilities before absorbing thousands more inmates from US forces by next year.

An official in the office of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Iraq is looking for a country to accept 36 detained members of an Iranian opposition group.

The announcement was the first clear signal from the government on its plans for the men, who were arrested in a raid on their camp in northern Iraq in July and have been ordered released by Iraq's chief prosecutor. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The official said the detainees would not be sent to Iran, where they would likely face arrest, but Iraq is seeking to send them to a third country.