Diplomats Told to Take Cover in Baghdad
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The State Department has instructed all personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad not to leave reinforced structures due to incoming insurgent rocket fire that has killed two American government workers this week.
In a memo sent Thursday to embassy staff and obtained by The Associated Press, the department says employees are required to wear helmets, body armor and other protective gear if they must venture outside and strongly advises them to sleep in blast-resistant locations instead of the less secure trailers that most occupy.
"Due to the continuing threat of indirect fire in the International Zone, all personnel are advised to remain under hard cover at all times," it says. "Personnel should only move outside of hard cover for essential reasons."
"Essential outdoor movements should be sharply limited in duration," the memo says, adding that personal protective equipment "is mandatory for all outside movements."
"We strongly recommend personnel do not sleep in their trailers," it goes on to say, offering space inside the Saddam Hussein-era palace that is the embassy's temporary home as well as room at an as-yet uncompleted new embassy compound and a limited supply of cots.
In a separate public notice to American citizens in Iraq, the embassy said the restrictions would remain in place "until further notice."
The staff memo says all personnel under the authority of the chief of mission "are required to wear body armor, helmet and protective eyewear any time they are outside of building structures in the International Zone. In addition, chief of mission personnel in the International Zone have been advised to remain inside of hardened structures at all times, except for mission essential movements."
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