One dead in Baghdad shelter collapse

A woman was killed and eight other people were hurt when a homeless shelter run by Iraq's largest Shia Muslim political group collapsed.

    The building fell on to sleeping families

    Officials from the Council of the Islamic

    Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) have blamed Friday morning's disaster on a bomb attack, b

    ut a senior US military officer said a

    structural defect was to the culprit.

    The west Baghdad building, which also houses a religious school, collapsed on to families sleeping in the compound

    .

    SCIRI spokesman Mohsin al-Hakim

    said an explosion had been detonated by remote control.

    "We were asleep and suddenly about five o'clock in the morning

    (0200 GMT) the roof fell on us," said Ahmad Rahim, 23, a nephew of

    the woman who died.

    Buried under rubble 

    "We were buried under the rubble and our

    neighbours came and helped us get out."

    As he spoke, a shaikh from the religious school arrived and

    Rahim cried out: "Why didn't you tell us it is dangerous here?"

    Sheikh Abd al-Wahid replied that bombings are happening all over

    Iraq.

    "It is Saddam's people who commit these attacks," he said.

    Ayat Allah Baqir

    al-Hakim was
    assassinated in September 

    US Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, speaking at a press

    conference in Baghdad, said

    he had received a report

    indicating there was no explosion.

    "The Iraqi police service reported to the 1st Armored Division that

    the building collapsed due to a structural integrity problem," he

    said.

    SCIRI leader assassination

    But Mohsen al-Hakim blamed "agents of the old regime and terrorists"

    for the incident, which came two days after a SCIRI member was

    gunned down outside his Baghdad home.

    Muhammad al-Hakim was

    shot dead on Wednesday, Dr Hamid al-Bayati, the London representative

    for SCIRI, said.

    "It's not the first time that our offices and officials have

    become victims of this kind of attack which aims to weaken us and

    remove us from the Iraqi scene," Mohsin al-Hakim said.

    SCIRI was hit hard by the September car bomb assassination of

    Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, its then leader. Another 82 people died in that

    attack in south-central holy city of Najaf.

    Iraqi resistance fighters 

    have launched a campaign of bombings and shootings against

    pro-US

    Iraqis, as well as US-led occupation forces

    , as they seek to end Iraq's occupation.

    SOURCE: AFP


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