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Iran Connection Alleged in Iraq Rocket Attack on UN Chief

DIGITAL CHOSUN | March 23, 2007

A rocket presumably fired by Iraqi armed insurgents on Thursday exploded some 50 m from where UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held a joint press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki in Baghdad's Green Zone. Ban paid an unscheduled visit to Baghdad on Thursday.

The rocket exploded during a press conference at the prime Minister's residence, agencies reported. AP said the Katyusha rocket was fired from a mainly Shiite area on the east bank of the Tigris River. The press conference was being held at the residence in the Green Zone on the river's west bank, which houses Iraqi government buildings and foreign embassies and is heavily guarded by U.S. forces and located. The 8 km-range Katyusha rockets, which were manufactured in the Soviet Union, were used by Iran during its war with Iraq between 1980 and 1988. The Shiite armed organization in Lebanon Hezbollah also occasionally uses them, fueling suspicions that it is backed by Iran. <br>
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The U.S. accuses Iran of providing financial support, weapons and personnel to Shiite insurgents in Iraq, and there is speculation that Tehran was behind Thursday's rocket attack aimed at an international figure. Iran faces a huge political risk if U.S. investigators find that the rocket was the model deployed by Iran.

The attack rattled the building and sent a scattering of dust raining from the ceiling. Ban ducked in response, CNN said. The attack left a 1 m-wide crater, destroyed two cars and slightly injured two guards.

Ban and Maliki resumed the press conference and took questions from reporters for another hour. Ban said he was confident that the Iraqi government and people face a healthier, safer and more prosperous future. After wrapping up his schedule in Iraq, the UN chief left for Egypt. He will tour the occupied Palestinian territories, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon until April 2.

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