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Arraf: Donkey carts used as rocket launchers

CNN's Jane Arraf holds the nose cone of a Russian-made rocket Friday.

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CNN's Jane Arraf on insurgent rocket attacks against high-profile buildings in Baghdad.
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Jane Arraf
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- With the help of donkey-pulled carts, insurgents launched rocket attacks early Friday that struck high-profile buildings in Baghdad -- the Iraqi Oil Ministry and two heavily guarded hotels.

CNN Anchor Bill Hemmer talked Friday to Jane Arraf, CNN's Baghdad bureau chief, about the latest strikes.

HEMMER: How close was it?

ARRAF: Pretty darn close. Now at least seven rockets slammed into this hotel [the Palestine Hotel]. My room's directly across from here. We have a lot of rooms across and next to this one. This one suffered a direct hit.

[Arraf holds up a piece of the wreckage.] And this little thing is part of what has caused the damage. It's the nose cone of a rocket -- a Russian-made rocket used by the military.

The country is awash in them. Now seven rockets at least hit this hotel. Several hit the hotel [the Sheraton Hotel] just across the way, all of them heavily secured, and others, eight of them, hit the Oil Ministry.

Now, there was no one in the Oil Ministry at the time. Lots of people [were] in the hotels very early on this Friday morning, but in the oil ministry, it's Friday, a day of rest [the Muslim holy day], and there were very few employees.

The rockets though did send a strong message that they could hit one of the most heavily fortified buildings in Baghdad. It sparked a fire that blazed for hours later.

Perhaps one of the most surprising things, according to U.S. military officials, [was] the method of delivery. These rockets were all carried around on carts pulled by donkeys.

HEMMER: How do they know that -- the donkey aspect of this attack?

ARRAF: For several reasons. One is they actually found the cart and the donkey nearby, sadly, just near this hotel. That donkey was in relatively bad shape. Shell-shocked and singed.

They actually diffused, the Iraqi police did, yet another attempt, and that again was a donkey with a cart attached with rockets on it. The rockets had not gone off. They were not designated by remote control. So, it is as they say, a new element in this campaign.

HEMMER: ... Two people [were] wounded as a result of those attacks. Our colleagues with CNN though [are] said to be OK.

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