Iraq's deputy PM hurt in suicide bomb

Salam al-Zubaie's condition unknown; 9 others killed near Green Zone; Al Qaida claims responsibility.

Iraq DPM 88 (photo credit: )
Iraq DPM 88
(photo credit: )
A suicide bomber penetrated security around the highest-ranking Sunni in Iraq's Shiite-dominated government, seriously wounding him and killing at least nine others during Friday prayers, an assassination attempt that further eroded the image of improving security in Baghdad. Deputy Prime Minsiter Salam Al-Zubaie underwent surgery to remove shrapnel from his abdomen at an American hospital. Afterward, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited his deputy, one of two, and said he was in serious but stable condition and would not need treatment abroad "for now." Iraqi state television quoted Brig. Qassim al-Moussawi, a military spokesman, as saying the the attack was an inside job by an al-Qaida fighter who had infiltrated al-Zubaie's security detachment. He offered no details and repeated calls to his office to verify the claim went unanswered. The Interior Ministry, which runs Iraqi police, said it had no information on that claim. The attacker struck al-Zubaie a day after an internet statement purportedly by an al-Qaida umbrella group singled him out as a stooge "to the crusader occupiers." Hours after the assassination attempt the same group, The Islamic State in Iraq, claimed responsibility and said it "brings the Islamic nation ... good news that our troops were able, with God's will, to target" al-Zubaie. "We tell the traitors of al-Maliki's infidel government, wait for what will destroy you, you will never be safe, with God's will on the Iraqi soil, as long as we have a blinking eye and a beating heart," the Internet statement said. It could not be independently verified. Ball-bearings packed in the suicide bomber's explosives vest remained lodged in al-Zubaie's chest, but surgeons decided against trying to remove them now, said Dhafer al-Ani, a Sunni lawmaker. The attack on al-Zubaie, the day after a Katyusha rocket slammed into to earth 50 feet from visiting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, starkly emphasized the continuing chaos in Iraq even after the introduction of thousands more American soldiers and six weeks of a massive security crackdown in the capital. Harith al-Obeidi, another Sunni lawmaker, said the dead included al-Zubaie's brother, a cousin, his personal secretary and the iman of the private mosque where the attack occured. Al-Obeidi said 17 people were wounded - five critically - in the blast the destroyed the interior of the small mosque attached to al-Zubaie's home near the Foreign ministry and just north of the Green Zone. US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad condemned the assassination attempt and promised the United States would work with the Iraqi government and security forces to capture those behind the brutal bombing.