Iraq parliament meets after bombing

MPs hold special session after Baghdad's Green Zone suffers it most deadly attack.

    Iraq's parliament is located in Baghdad's Green Zone - one of the most secure areas in Iraq [EPA]

    The explosion on Thursday took place in a canteen on the same floor as the 275-member national assembly's main debating chamber.
     
    Several ministers had been eating lunch when the blast took place.
     
    'Huge blast'
     
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    Muhammad Awadh, a member of parliament from the mainly Sunni National Dialogue Front, and Asif Hussein Muhammad, an MP from the Islamic Union of Kurdistan, were killed in the blast on the building's first floor.

    "We were having a meeting when suddenly we heard a huge blast inside the restaurant. I saw a lot MPs wounded and bleeding," Fouad al-Massoum, the leader of the Kurdish parliamentary bloc, said.

    Three female MPs from Muqtada al-Sadr's parliamentary list were wounded in the explosion, along with three members of the United Iraq Alliance, the main Shia bloc in the parliament, Al Jazeera reported.

    Taha al-Lihaibi, Salman al-Jumaili, Hahim al-Ta'i and two other MPs from the Iraqi Accord Front were injured, another member of parliament told al Jazeera.

    US crackdown 'problematic'
     
    Mahmoud Osman an Iraqi MP from the Kurdish Coalition, told Al Jazeera that the blast showed that there were problems with the US-backed security crackdown in Baghdad.

     

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    "It shows that the problem is not just a security one, but a political one."

     

    Osman said he hoped there would be a full investigation into the explosion.

     

    Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, condemned the attack which she said was the work of "terrorists" opposed to recent US attempts to bring order to Iraq's capital.
     
    George Bush, the US president, also condemned the attack.
     
    "It reminds us, though, that there is an enemy willing to bomb innocent people and a symbol of democracy," he said. 

     

    High security

     

    Baghdad's heavily-defended Green Zone is the
    heart of US operations of in the country [AFP]

    Security officials at the parliament had used sniffer dogs earlier on Thursday as people entered the building - a measure rarely employed.

     

    Attacks in the Green Zone are relatively rare although fighters regularly fire projectiles such as rockets and mortar rounds into the compound from outside its heavily guarded walls.

     

    Access is closely restricted to visitors carrying picture identity cards while everyone entering is required to pass through multiple checkpoints and metal detectors.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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