Friday, April 13, 2007

United By Bombing

Iraqi leaders say bombing will unite them

By Mussab Al-Khairalla and Yara Bayoumy

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Leaders from across Iraq's sectarian divide pleaded for unity at a special session of parliament on Friday, gathering under high security to condemn a suicide bombing that tore through the building the day before.

A senior government source said authorities had intelligence that militants were planning an attack on parliament before Thursday's bombing, which killed a member of parliament and wounded two dozen other people in the building's restaurant.

An al Qaeda-backed group, the self-styled Islamic State in Iraq, claimed responsibility in a Web statement for the worst breach of security in Baghdad's most secure area -- the Green Zone that also houses government offices and embassies.

Three workers in the cafe had been detained, a top lawmaker from the ruling Shi'ite Alliance bloc said. The Interior Ministry said it would not give details of the investigation.

"We had prior intelligence that there would be an attack on the parliament," the government source told Reuters, without giving specific details of when the information had been received or what the nature of the threat was.

Security was heavy on Friday as parliament met. Vehicles and their drivers were thoroughly searched and mobile checkpoints set up. Police raided houses inside the sprawling compound.

The bombing came two months into a crackdown in Baghdad that U.S. officials hope will give the government breathing space to pull Iraq back from the brink of civil war between majority Shi'ites and once dominant minority Sunni Arabs.

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