Iraq: Explosions strike US-controlled Green Zone

A series of mortars or rockets slammed into the US-controlled Green Zone on Thursday, and an official said at least one round struck a parking lot used by the Iraqi prime minister and his security detail. The barrage occurred a day after the US military acknowledged "an increasing pattern of attacks" against the sprawling complex on the west bank of the Tigris River despite a security crackdown now in its fifth month. A huge plume of black smoke billowed into the sky and helicopters buzzed overhead after about nine blasts occurred in quick succession around 10 a.m. At least one mortar round struck a parking lot used by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his security detail, an official from the prime minister's office said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to release the information.