Green Zone bomb was assassination attempt: Iraq PM

Iraq PM blamed al Qaeda in Iraq and Saddam Hussein`s Baath Party for the violence.

Baghdad: Iraq`s prime minister said on Sunday that
a bombing earlier this week inside Baghdad`s Green Zone was an
assassination attempt against him, but he defended the
nation`s armed forces and said the breach did not signal a
deterioration in security.

During an interview with The Associated Press, Nouri
al-Maliki said the building housing the legislature or the
parliament speaker also could have been targets but that
preliminary information suggested the bombers were trying to
get him.

"The preliminary intelligence information says that the
car was due to enter parliament and stay there and not to
explode. It was supposed to explode on the day I entered
parliament," said al-Maliki, who was not in or near the
parliament building when the bomb actually went off.

Monday`s blast inside the central Baghdad zone, which is
supposed to be one of Iraq`s most secure areas, has raised new
concerns about whether Iraqi forces are able to protect the
country when the US military leaves by the end of the year.

At the time of the explosion, officials said they did not
know if it was the result of rocket or mortar fire into the
Green Zone or a bomb, and it was unclear if anyone was being
targeted specifically.

The Baghdad military spokesman, Qassim al-Moussawi, said
last night that al-Maliki was the target. He said the driver
of the vehicle tried to join a convoy of other vehicles going
into the parliament grounds but was turned back by officials
at the checkpoint because he didn`t have proper
identification. The driver then drove to the parking lot just
opposite the parliament entrance, and the vehicle exploded
seconds later.

Al-Maliki said the bomb had likely been assembled inside
the Green Zone and was not very powerful.

A body was found near the wrecked car, but authorities
were still trying to determine the person`s identity and
whether he was the bomber or a bystander, officials have said.
Two other people were wounded.

Al-Maliki played down any suggestion that the attack, in
an area that is also home to the US Embassy as well as many
Iraqi government institutions, demonstrated any weakness in
security ahead of the US military withdrawal. All American
forces are to be out of the country by the end of this month.

"I don`t think that this says something about the
security situation in the country. Such breaches can happen in
any country or anywhere," the prime minister said.

He blamed al Qaeda in Iraq and Saddam Hussein`s Baath
Party for the violence.


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