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U.S. diplomat survives Iraq car bombing -police

Reuters | June 13, 2005
By Lutfi Abu Oun

A senior U.S. diplomat was unscathed on Monday when a suicide car bomber struck a U.S. military convoy in Baghdad, police sources said.

A U.S. embassy spokesman said a diplomat, whom he declined to identify, was in the area but was unaffected. He said the attack appeared to be unrelated to the official's movements, but declined to give further details.

A spokesman for the Iraqi Islamic Party, a major Sunni Muslim grouping, said a senior U.S. official had just left its compound in western Baghdad when his convoy was hit by an explosion which shattered windows in the party's headquarters.

An Interior Ministry spokesman and police had said earlier that a U.S. military convoy had been attacked by a suicide car bomber in the west of Baghdad at around 2 p.m. (1000 GMT), and that two civilians nearby had been killed and five wounded.

Reuters journalists said U.S. soldiers cordoned off the area after the blast, arriving in unusually large numbers for what was otherwise a fairly routine incident in Baghdad.

U.S. convoys are frequent targets of insurgents from the Sunni minority that once dominated Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

The Iraqi Islamic Party (IIP) has had strained relations with the U.S. military and Iraq's new Shi'ite-led government in spite of being seen as one of the more moderate Sunni groups.

U.S. and Iraqi officials have been urging it to take part in negotiations on a new constitution after it failed to contest an election in January in protest at violence in Sunni areas. Two weeks ago, U.S. troops raided the home of IIP leader Mohsen Abdul-Hamid and held him and three sons for some hours.

U.S. military officials later called it a mistake but said they had had intelligence that people with links to the insurgency had been meeting at Abdul-Hamid's house. That turned out not to be the case, they said.

Outside the party headquarters on Monday, witnesses said a U.S. army Humvee had caught fire after the blast, and that a U.S. helicopter had arrived to evacuate the wounded. They said three U.S. soldiers had been evacuated. (Additional reporting by Michael Georgy, Faris al-Mehdawi, Walid Ibrahim and Alastair Macdonald)

 

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