GOP senators' plane shot at over Baghdad

Aug. 30, 2007 at 8:10 PM
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- A U.S. military plane carrying four members of the U.S. Congress took evasive action Thursday after it came under ground fire as it took off from Baghdad.

The three projectiles all missed after evasive action and counter-measures were taken and no one aboard the C-130 Hercules jet was hurt, said Laura Henderson, spokeswoman for Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., one of those on board.

“They have landed safely in Amman (Jordan),” she told United Press International, saying she had no further details.

Also on board were Sens. James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Mel Martinez, R-Fla., and Rep. Robert “Bud” Cramer, D-Ala.

"It was dark as the dickens outside, and I was looking out the little window. I saw the red glare of a shell or a missile coming up toward our plane," Shelby said in a telephone interview with Alabama reporters cited by the Huntsville, Ala., Times Web site. "Then I saw a flare pop out and our plane just started moving and changing directions and trying to move."

He said the crew had done “a tremendous job evading the missiles … We owe them."

“On departure from Baghdad our plane took fire from three ground to air missiles,” said an e-mail message sent by a person on board to a UPI reporter.

The projectiles “could have been RPGs” -- rocket propelled grenades -- the e-mail said.

“One crew member told me that (helicopters) were called in on the shooters’ positions,” concluded the e-mail.

Aircraft taking off from Baghdad often come under anti-aircraft fire. There has only been one confirmed fatal shoot-down of the Hercules workhorse in Iraq -- in January 2005, when 10 British military personnel were killed after their C-130 was shot down northwest of Baghdad.

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