Thursday, April 12, 2007

Two Iraqi MP's Blown Up

UPDATE: Check out the new blog covering the Mid East: Outsider On The Inside

A suicide bomber set of his explosives at a canteen inside the heavily fortified Green Zone in Baghdad today, killing two Iraqi MP's and wounding 10 others.

The bombing, which wounded about 20 people including MPs, occurred despite a massive joint US-Iraqi security crackdown launched in the capital two months
ago and came just hours after an attack on a Baghdad bridge that left 10 dead.
Attacks in the Green Zone are relatively rare although seven were people were killed in a bombing there in 2004 claimed by Al Qaeda in Iraq.

A security official said that Thursday's attack was carried out by a suicide bomber wearing an explosive belt, adding that blood and pieces of flesh were scattered across the cafeteria.

A security source named one of the dead MPs as Mohammed Awad, a member of the National Dialogue Front, a Sunni Arab party that has 11 seats in the 275-member parliament.

The second killed was a member of the Kurdish Alliance, the second biggest grouping in parliament after the main Shiite Muslim alliance, the source said.

About 10 security officials and 10 lawmakers were also wounded in the explosion that ripped through the canteen toward the end of lunch.

About seven hours earlier, a suicide bomber blew up a truck on a major bridge across the Tigris River in Baghdad, killing 10 people and sending cars plunging from the wrecked structure into the waters below.

Access to the Green Zone - also home to the Iraqi government and foreign embassies - is strictly controlled with access restricted to visitors carrying picture identity cards and required to pass through multiple checkpoints and metal detectors.

Insurgents have, however, managed to fire projectiles such as rockets and mortar rounds into the compound from outside its heavily guarded walls.

Update: Analysis from Time, suggesting that this attack was a direct message from the Islamic State in Iraq group, affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

Within an hour of the explosion, a message from the al-Qaeda-controlled Islamic State in Iraq was posted on a prominent militant website,, calling the blast a "message" to anyone who cooperates with "the occupier and its agents." It said ominously, "We will reach you wherever you are"

The extremists want to stop efforts of reconciliation between the Iraqi government and an Iraqi-led, nationalist faction of the insurgency that has turned on al-Qaeda in recent weeks. That was the likely motive in an earlier attack on March 23, when Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie was hospitalized after an attack reportedly carried out by a guard who detonated a suicide vest at al-Zubaie's compound on the edge of the Green Zone. Al-Zubaie, a Sunni from a powerful tribe west of Baghdad, is an important promoter of the reconciliation policy.

Recently, gunfights and tit-for-tat executions have erupted in west Baghdad between the nationalist Battalion of the 1920 Revolution and al-Qaeda-backed fighters. Last week, an influential nationalist group, the Islamic Army in Iraq, asked Osama bin Laden to reign in al-Qaeda in Iraq's more extreme tactics such as targeting Iraqi civilians and brutally enforcing Sharia Law.

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