Iraq's Shi'ite vice president narrowly escaped assassination Monday as a blast ripped through a government meeting hall just hours after it was searched by US teams with bomb-sniffing dogs. At least 10 people were killed.
Adel Abdul-Mahdi was slightly injured in the explosion - which splintered chairs, destroyed a speakers' podium and sent a chilling message that suspected Sunni militants can strike anywhere despite a major security crackdown across Baghdad.
The area around the municipal building was sealed off by US forces. Investigators then grappled with the troubling question of how the bomb was smuggled into the ministry of public works - a seven-story building with crack surveillance systems from its days as offices for Saddam Hussein's feared intelligence service.
The bomb - possibly hidden in the podium - went off moments after the minister for public works finished a speech in the third-floor chamber, witnesses said. Abdul-Mahdi had made a welcoming address a few minutes earlier, raising speculation the bomb could have been on a timer-trigger that missed the vice president by sheer luck.