• Kyodo

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Mortar shells were fired early Monday near the Ground Self-Defense Force camp in the southern Iraqi city of Samawah, police said.

Defense Agency officials in Tokyo said rounds hit several hundred meters west of the camp and added that no GSDF troops were wounded in the incident.

The attack occurred at around 1:40 a.m. and the projectiles were fired from a location 2 or 3 km north of the camp, police said. Witnesses were quoted as saying five explosions were heard in quick succession.

It was not immediately known if any civilians may have been wounded.

The agency also said a projectile that landed near the camp at around 11:40 p.m. Saturday was a rocket. The rocket, the first one confirmed to have been launched near the GSDF camp, did not explode and no injuries were reported.

The Dutch military base in Samawah has recently come under a spate of attacks believed to be carried out by the Mahdi Army militia loyal to Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Several hundred Japanese troops are based in Samawah for humanitarian reconstruction work. The Dutch troops are in charge of security.

Boost aid: colonel

Staff report

Ground Self-Defense Force Col. Masahisa Sato, who until early August was in charge of liaison between GSDF troops deployed to the southern Iraq city of Samawah and the local community, reiterated Monday the need for expanding Japanese aid in Iraq.

“The (Al-Muthanna Province) governor, local council members and other local people often complained to me about the lack of jobs and demanded more facilities to be repaired,” said Sato, who returned to Japan on Aug. 7 after a six-month stint in Iraq.

If things are left as they are, it “would affect our security,” he said.

He particularly cited the poor state of electricity and sewerage and said an official development aid project should address these problems.

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