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FRIDAY, AUGUST 31, 2007
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Cramer, Shelby plane fired at
Lawmakers flying with military in Iraq

WASHINGTON (AP) — A military cargo plane carrying Rep. Bud Cramer and Sen. Richard Shelby was forced to take evasive maneuvers and dispatch flares to avoid ground fire after taking off from Baghdad on Thursday night, Iraq time.

Two other senators were also on board the plane.

The lawmakers said their plane, a C-130, was under fire from three rocket-propelled grenades over the course of several minutes as they left for Amman, Jordan.

"We were jostled around pretty good," said Cramer, D-Huntsville, who estimated the plane had ascended to about 6,000 feet.

"There were a few minutes there where I wondered: 'Have we been hit? Are we OK?' "

Capt. Angel Wallace, a spokeswoman for U.S. Central Command, said she was not aware of the incident, and military public affairs officials in Baghdad could not be reached immediately.

"It was kind of dicey," Shelby said. "But it just shows you what our troops go through every day."

Lawmakers travel to Iraq regularly to get a closer look at military and political progress there, usually staying inside Baghdad's secured Green Zone and traveling under heavy security.

Despite the scare, Shelby, Cramer and Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., said they believed the recent increase in troop levels has helped stabilize parts of the country.

"It was a scary moment," said Martinez, who said he had just taken off his body armor when he saw a bright flash outside the window. "Our pilots were terrific. ... They banked in one direction and then banked the other direction, and they set off the flares."

James Inhofe, R-Okla., was also on the plane.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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