Associated Press
May 18, 2008

Iran angrily blamed the US on Friday after at least three of its diplomats were wounded in a Baghdad shooting, saying the US was encouraging attacks on Iranians in Iraq.

The shooting — which may have been by Iraqi soldiers during an argument at a checkpoint — comes amid unprecedented strains between Iran and the Iraqi government, which has long been close to Tehran.

In recent weeks, Iranian officials have complained that Iraq’s Shiite-dominated leadership is bowing too much to Washington. The tensions have been fueled in part by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s crackdowns in the past two months against Shiite militiamen that the US accuses Iran of backing, a claim Tehran denies.

The shooting occurred on Thursday as the Iranians’ convoy approached a bridge leading to a revered Shiite shrine in the northern Baghdad neighborhood of Kazimiyah.

An Iraqi Interior Ministry official said Iraqi soldiers at a checkpoint on the bridge exchanged fire with the convoy’s guards in an argument that broke out when most of the Iranians failed to produce identification cards.

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