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Bulgarian troops attacked in Iraq

U.S. Marines have handed over military control of Karbala to Bulgaria.
U.S. Marines have handed over military control of Karbala to Bulgaria.

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Bulgarian troops take charge of Karbala from U.S. troops. CNN's Ralitsa Vassileva reports
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SOFIA, Bulgaria -- A grenade launcher was fired at Bulgarian troops supporting the United States in Iraq in the second holiest Shiite city of Karbala, but there were no casualties.

The Bulgarian Defense Ministry said in a statement that its military base in Iraq had launched an operation to track down those responsible for the attack Friday morning.

"There were no casualties or material damages," the statement said.

The attack was the first against Bulgaria's nearly 500-strong stabilization force since they began patrolling the city earlier this month to help the U.S. restore order in Iraq following a war there.

On Tuesday, military control of Karbala was handed over to a Bulgarian military governor, Lt. Col. Petko Marinov. It was previously run by U.S. Marines.

As well as the 250 Bulgarian soldiers stationed in Karbala, which is 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Baghdad, Marinov is in charge of Polish troops and U.S. Marines serving in Karbala.

The small Balkan country, which was supported by the U.S. in its bid to join NATO, backed the American-led war in Iraq and is now providing a total of 500 troops for Washington's post-war stabilization force.

Bulgaria's contingent will be under Polish command after the U.S. makes another transfer of control on September 3. This will put the entire south central region, including Karbala, under Polish control.

-- CNN correspondent Ralitsa Vassileva contributed to this report


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