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US Officials Condemn Rocket Attack on Baghdad Hotel - 2003-10-26

Senior U.S. officials have condemned the rocket attack early Sunday on a Baghdad hotel. The officials say the incident is evidence that a dangerous situation remains in Iraq.

Secretary of State Colin Powell told the NBC-TV program Meet the Press that he deplores the missile attack and regrets the loss of life and injuries it caused. "We still have a dangerous situation as we saw again in this attack and other attacks, where there are remnants of the old regime and some terrorists who do not want to see democracy, who do not want to see the people enjoying a better life. So we have much work ahead of us. And we will not shrink from this work. We will have to get the security situation under control," he said.

About eight missiles were fired at the Al-Rasheed Hotel in Baghdad, where visiting Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was staying.

In discussing that incident, Mr. Powell said the most important aspect of improving Iraq's security situation is training Iraqis to be responsible for themselves. "What we need is more security throughout the country, but that security really has to come, not just from American or coalition troops, but from bringing up these Iraqi forces that Paul Wolfowitz and all of us have been talking about, kinds of forces I just touched on, a new army, police force, people who know the neighborhoods, know who should not be in a particular place and will have better access to the kinds of human intelligence you need to deal with these sorts of threats," he said. Meanwhile, the commander of U.S. troops in Iraq, General Ricardo Sanchez, has said the number of attacks against U.S.-led troops in Iraq has been increasing.

On the ABC-TV program This Week, the U.S. Administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, quoted General Sanchez as saying the attacks are also improving in quality. "General Sanchez pointed out that there is evidence that the terrorist groups are getting better organized and they are using now more sophisticated approaches, in particular, the use of these improvised explosive devices alongside our convoys. And that is a danger, there was an attack against a convoy yesterday as well, out west of Baghdad. That is a serious problem, and it is one we are going to have to continue to get at," he said.

U.S. officials called the makeshift missile launcher that was used against the Al-Rasheed Hotel "clever," saying it was disguised to look like a portable generator.