Agence France Presse

Hilla, February 18

Seven Iraqis were killed in a double suicide car bomb attack on a Polish base at Hilla south of Baghdad today that also left dozens wounded, including coalition troops, a hospital official said.

"We have received seven dead, four men, two women and a 12-year-old girl, plus 28 wounded -- all of them Iraqis," said Mohammed al-Tai, director of al-Talimi hospital in Hilla.

A hospital administrator had earlier put the death toll at five and the wounded at 33 Iraqis.

Up to 16 coalition soldiers, plus one US national, were wounded in the attack, according to Polish and Hungarian military officials.

The suicide attack occurred outside the Polish military base in Hilla at 7:15 am, said Lieutenant Colonel Robert Strzelecki.

At least two Iraqis died and eight members of coalition forces were wounded, said Strzelecki.

He said the two dead were apparently the drivers of explosives-laden vehicles which drove at the base, while the injured were six Polish troops, one US national and one Hungarian, according to a Polish military statement.

In Budapest, however, Hungarian defence ministry spokesman Peter Matyuc told AFP that 10 Hungarian soldiers were injured, two of them seriously. He also said six Polish troops and one US national were wounded.

Strzelecki said only one of the two cars had exploded when it pulled up to the base 100 km south of Baghdad.

The second had been stopped when guards shot its driver dead, he added.

In Warsaw military spokesman Colonel Zdzislaw Gnatowski said the Mongolian guards had brought one of the vehicles to a halt with automatic weapon fire then shot the driver dead when he tried to escape.

He said it was the first such attack on the Polish base.

Matyuc said the Hungarian soldiers were injured by shrapnel after one of the two vehicles, which he described as trucks, exploded, blowing out the windows of the brick building where the troops were staying. Matyuc said the other truck failed to explode because it was held up by a brick barricade that surrounds the camp. "Despite the attack, Hungarian troops will stay on and complete their mission in Iraq," Matyuc said.