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Congressmen visiting Iraq dodge attack

August 31, 2007|From the Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A military cargo plane carrying four members of Congress took evasive action and dispatched flares to avoid ground fire Thursday night after taking off from Baghdad.

The lawmakers said three rocket-propelled grenades were fired at their plane, a C-130, over the course of several minutes as they left for Jordan.

"It was a scary moment," said Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.), who reported seeing a bright flash outside the window just after he took off his body armor. "Our pilots were terrific. . . . They banked in one direction and then banked the other direction, and they set off the flares."

The other congressmen on the plane were Sens. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) and James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Rep. Robert E. "Bud" Cramer (D-Ala.).

"We were jostled around pretty good," Cramer said.

U.S. Central Command said it was not aware of the incident.

Lawmakers travel to Iraq regularly, usually staying inside Baghdad's Green Zone and traveling under heavy security.

Despite the scare, Shelby, Martinez and Cramer said they believed the recent troop buildup had helped stabilize parts of the country.

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