Thursday, April 12, 2007

Suicide bomber kills 3 MPs at Iraq parliament

I wonder if the bomber will be rewarded by Allah for killing Iraqi MPs.

Suicide bomber kills 3 MPs at Iraq parliament

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed three Iraqi lawmakers at a cafe in the parliament building on Thursday in the most serious breach of security in the heavily fortified Green Zone since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

Witnesses said dozens had been hurt in the blast, which tore through the restaurant as many lawmakers were having lunch. Police said 10 people were wounded.

How explosives and the bomber were smuggled into the Green Zone, a sprawling compound that is surrounded by U.S. and Iraqi checkpoints, will be the focus of investigations. The zone houses parliament, government offices and the U.S. embassy.

Earlier, a truck bomb killed at least seven people on a main bridge in northern Baghdad, destroying most of the steel structure and sending several cars plunging into the River Tigris below, police said.

The blasts come amid a U.S.-backed security crackdown in Baghdad that is regarded as a last-ditch attempt to halt Iraq's plunge into all-out sectarian civil war.

Iraqiya state television said three lawmakers had been killed. Officials have named one as Mohammed Awadh, a member of the Accordance Front, the biggest Sunni bloc in parliament.

A security official confirmed Awadh had been killed and said another parliamentarian was missing and presumed dead. Two other lawmakers were critically wounded, the official said.

"Suddenly we heard a huge blast inside the restaurant. I saw a lot MPs wounded and bleeding," said Fouad al-Massoum, leader of the Kurdish bloc in parliament.

He said security officials, fearing there might be a second explosion, ordered everyone out of the building. But no one, including lawmakers, was allowed to leave the area straight after the blast so they could be questioned, officials said.

The Iraqi security official said the bomber was wearing a belt packed with explosives. Recently, the U.S. military said two suicide vests had been found inside the Green Zone.

Militants have rarely managed to penetrate the various checkpoints and carry out attacks inside the zone, although they frequently fire mortars and rockets into the area.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the attack was carried out by those "who wish to stop the Iraqi people having a future that would be based on democracy and stability."

She said the Baghdad security plan was in its early stages and "we have said there will be good days and bad days."


A Reuters witness said the blast took place at the cashier's register in the cafe, which is near parliament's main assembly hall. Parliament was in session on Thursday.

"I saw a ball of fire and heard a huge, loud explosion. There were pieces of flesh floating in the air," said the witness who was lightly wounded in the arm.

Iraqi security guards seized a television camera from a Reuters journalist and refused to give it back.

One of Iraq's vice presidents survived a bomb attack at a government ministry outside the Green Zone in February. A deputy prime minister was wounded last month in a suicide bomb attack at a prayer hall in his compound in the capital.

Two main sections of the Sarafiya bridge, a main artery linking east and west Baghdad, collapsed into the river after the truck bomb exploded just before the morning rush hour.

One army officer on the scene said explosive charges might have also been used to bring down a bridge that local residents said was built by the British in the early 1900s.

Among the dead were four policemen who drowned after their car toppled into the river's muddy waters, police said.

U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a security crackdown in the capital two months ago that has reduced death squad killings, but car and truck bombs still kill and wound scores.

The destruction of the bridge will cause major disruption in northern Baghdad. Two other bridges across the Tigris in that part of the capital are shut for security reasons while another is regarded by many residents as too dangerous to use.

"There is a conspiracy to isolate the two halves of Baghdad," parliament Speaker Mahmoud Mashhadani, an outspoken Sunni politician, told lawmakers.

A dozen bridges cross the Tigris in Baghdad, linking the east and west of the city.

Police said seven people had been killed in the bridge blast. They said up to 22 people were wounded. At least five cars had fallen into the river, including the police vehicle.

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