BAGHDAD, (AP) – A fuel tanker exploded Sunday near a checkpoint outside of Baghdad International Airport, Iraqi officials said, along a route once known as the world’s deadliest road because of frequent attacks there during the height of the insurgency.
There were conflicting reports about the cause of the explosion: An Iraqi police official said it was a bomb attached to the truck while an airport official said it was an accident.
The police official said a bomb attached to the tanker detonated at the checkpoint on the four-lane road leading to the airport.
But airport spokesman Kareem al-Timini said the explosion was an accident that was caused when the driver started a fire on the side of the road.
“It was a fire the driver set to cook his breakfast,” he said.
The explosion caused four other tankers to catch fire, al-Timini and the police official said. At least five guards at the checkpoint were wounded.
Al-Timini said the tanker was part of a fuel convoy on its way to Camp Victory, the U.S. military headquarters next to the airport.
The U.S. military did not immediately respond to a request for additional information.
The police official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.
The road, dubbed “Route Irish” by the U.S. military, connects the fortified Green Zone with the airport. It gained notoriety after the 2003 U.S.-lead invasion because of the frequent attacks along it during the height of the insurgency.
Attacks along the road all but stopped during the past two years as violence declined dramatically in Iraq.