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'Luck' aids Australians in car bomb attack -

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'Luck' aids Australians in car bomb attack

Reporter: Kerry O'Brien

KERRY O'BRIEN: Three Australian soldiers have been injured in a car bomb explosion that killed at
least three Iraqi civilians this morning, Baghdad time.

The explosion, believed to be triggered by a remote control device, occurred not far from the
Australian embassy, although the embassy does not appear to in any way have been the target.

For more, I'm joined now from Canberra by Brigadier Mike Hannan, Australian Defence Force
spokesman.

Mike Hannan, what's the latest information on the three Australians and, for that matter, on the
other casualties?

BRIGADIER MIKE HANNAN, DEFENCE FORCE SPOKESMAN: Yes, well, the three Australians have been very
lucky, Kerry.

One of them has already returned to duty after treatment, with minor cuts and abrasions.

One is suffering from concussion and will require some further treatment.

And a third is a little more seriously injured and is undergoing some surgery for facial injuries,
but these are not life-threatening and he should make a full recovery.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Do you know how close they were to the explosion?

BRIGADIER MIKE HANNAN: We don't have the fine details of the incident, but they were fairly close
to the explosion.

Certainly the fact that injuries are so light is a testament to the quality of the protection
offered by the armoured vehicles they were travelling in.

KERRY O'BRIEN: OK.

So there were three armoured vehicles.

What was their precise role at the time?

What were they actually doing?

BRIGADIER MIKE HANNAN: Well, they were conducting routine activities around the area.

Their main jobs there are, of course, securing the area by constant patrolling to ensure that none
of the belligerents get close to their own locations and our embassy, of course, and, of course,
they also provide secure transport for our diplomats and their duties around Baghdad.

KERRY O'BRIEN: So it was in the area immediately outside the actual secured zone, the so-called
green zone?

BRIGADIER MIKE HANNAN: It was about 350 metres away from our locations.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Now, is there any sense that this car bomb had a specific target?

BRIGADIER MIKE HANNAN: Well, we don't have any evidence to that effect at all.

I think it would be very premature to jump to that conclusion.

The most likely scenario is that it was going to occur and we were just the unfortunate people who
were in the vicinity at the time.

KERRY O'BRIEN: It's only last week that the Australian Commander in Iraq, Brigadier Peter
Hutchinson, warned in the Sydney Morning Herald of increased threat to personnel with the looming
American election and then subsequently the Iraq election in January.

I guess that does make for a very unpredictable situation.

It's unpredictable anyway, but perhaps makes it even more so?

BRIGADIER MIKE HANNAN: Yes.

Well, certainly, I think we can't overemphasise the fact that Iraq is a dangerous place and that we
are absolutely focused on the security of our people and the safety of our people there.

Certainly the lessons that are to be drawn from this will be assessed very quickly and put into
place within hours.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Well, I mean, from everything we've seen over the months and understanding the
unpredictability of the situation in Iraq, it would be hard to imagine that you're going to be able
to be any more secure in the foreseeable future than you have been up to now.

I mean, what further precautions could you take that you're not already taking?

BRIGADIER MIKE HANNAN: Well, I'm not sure about that but, certainly if there are lessons to be
learnt from this, it's very important that we knuckle down and learn them very quickly and
certainly adapt and adjust our procedures to ensure that we've got the best protection we can get
in terms of protecting our people and, of course, protecting the Australian diplomats who are doing
such important work for the country there.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Given the warning that Brigadier Hutchinson talked about last week, does that
presage, in fact, extra precautions?

I mean, that you'll increase the size of your patrols - does that in any way enhance security?

BRIGADIER MIKE HANNAN: It may do.

There might be a range of activities that we can take, and, certainly, Brigadier Hutchinson on the
ground and his detachment commanders will be looking at that very closely.

I mean, their job there is to protect the Australian interests there.

That's their focus and they'll be taking every possible step to ensure that our people are as safe
and as well protected as they possibly can.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But when it really comes down to it, there's got to be an element of luck along with
anything else in such a dicey situation?

BRIGADIER MIKE HANNAN: Well, I think every soldier understands that there's always a bit of luck,
but I'd have to say that luck certainly favours those that are best prepared and who make the best
efforts on their own behalf.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Brigadier Mike Hannan, thanks for talking with us.

BRIGADIER MIKE HANNAN: Thank you, Kerry.