Thu, Nov 23, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Bomb attack on speaker of parliament condemned

BAGHDAD BLAST One bomb planted on the back of the lawmaker's car exploded on Tuesday, but other devices were discovered under it and in a second vehicle

AP , BAGHDAD

Iraq's largest Sunni-Arab political party yesterday condemned a car bomb attack inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone that apparently attempted to kill the speaker of parliament.

The small bomb exploded on Tuesday afternoon at the back of an armored car in the motorcade of the Sunni speaker, Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, as it was driving into a parking lot near the Green Zone's convention center, where al-Mashhadani and other legislators were meeting, a parliamentary aide said.

The slightly wounded US security guard driver got out of the car and found other explosive devices planted beneath it, the aide said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

The driver called US soldiers who brought bomb sniffing dogs to the scene that detected explosives in another vehicle in the area belonging to al-Mashhadani's motorcade, Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Garver, a US military spokesman, said yesterday.

Bomb specialists detonated that car, which set off a series of blasts that caused a fire but injured no one and caused no major damage to nearby structures, Garver said.

The blaze was put out by the Green Zone's fire department.

"Obviously, we take security very seriously so we are investigating this incident," Garver said.

The serious security breach in the Green Zone -- which houses the Iraqi government, the US and British embassies and thousands of foreign troops and private contractors -- forced the Iraqi legislators to stay inside the convention center for several hours until the fire was put out and the area found to be safe, the aide said.

"We strongly condemn this act," said Ammar Wajih, the chief spokesman for the Iraqi Islamic Party, the largest Sunni-Arab party in Iraq.

"To plant a bomb in a heavily guarded place near the parliament building is a big security breach because few authorized persons can enter this area. The aim of this act is to hamper the political process," he said.

In other developments, US President George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced they will meet next Wednesday and Thursday in Jordan to discuss the deteriorating security situation in Iraq.

"We will focus our discussions on current developments in Iraq, progress made to date in the deliberations of a high-level joint committee on transferring security responsibilities, and the role of the region in supporting Iraq," they said in a statement.

At least 13 Iraqis were killed and six wounded yesterday in attacks by suspected insurgents using drive-by shootings and bombings in Baghdad and other areas of Iraq, police said.

Coalition forces also said they detained 59 suspected insurgents during raids in Baghdad, Fallujah and south of the capital in the past few days.

Raad Jaafar Hamadi, an Iraqi journalist working for the state-run al-Sabah newspaper in Baghdad, was killed in a drive-by shooting yesterday, police said.

The slaying raised to at least 92 the number of journalists who have been killed in Iraq since the Iraq war began.

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