Iraq says PM possible target in Green Zone bomb

Fri Dec 2, 2011 10:42pm GMT
 

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi authorities said on Friday a rare attack inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone this week was carried out by a suicide bomber in a car and may have targeted the country's prime minister.

Reports a suicide bomber was able to penetrate the Green Zone, which houses the U.S. and other embassies as well as parliament and some ministries, raised questions about security just as the remaining American troops leave Iraq.

The attack took place a day before a visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden to Iraq's capital.

Baghdad security operations official, Major General Qassim al-Moussawi, said intelligence pointed to an attempt to target Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki or some other top political leader, but he said the investigation was still ongoing.

It was not clear if anybody other than the attacker was killed in Monday night's blast, which officials initially said was a mortar round. Rockets and mortar rounds occasionally land on U.S. bases and inside the Green Zone.

Moussawi said the bomber was driving a black, four-wheel drive vehicle carrying 20 kg (44 lb) of locally manufactured explosives, which had been placed close to the tank.

"Intelligence shows the suicide bomber aimed to enter the building of the parliament and to stay in one of the parking lots until the prime minister ... arrived at the parliament," he said.

He showed a video of a black vehicle approaching a checkpoint outside the parliament building, then backing off, before an explosion outside the building. But he showed little evidence as to how the bomb was to have targeted Maliki.

Violence in Iraq is down sharply since the peak of sectarian slaughter here in 2006-2007, but Sunni Islamists tied to al Qaeda and rival Shi'ite militias, some backed by Iran, still carry out almost daily bombings, attacks and assassinations.   Continued...

Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki (C) arrives to attend the opening ceremony of Baghdad's International Fair November 1, 2011.  REUTERS/Mahmoud Raouf Mahmoud
 
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