04/13/2007, 00.00
IRAQ
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Extraordinary meeting of Parliament on security in the green zone.

Following yesterday’s suicide attack the Iraqi executive meets to discuss security measures in the compound which hosts government offices and diplomatic residences. The suicide bomber may have been a parliamentary security guard.

Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Iraq's parliament is to hold a special session today in a defiant response to a suicide bombing inside the Green Zone. –Despite the fact that Friday is normally a day of rest – the executive wants to meet to express condemnation at the suicide bombing in the building the day before, which seems to have been aimed at undermining its sovereignty.  They main issue under discussion will be security in the perimeter.    

 

Yesterday a suicide bomber strapped with explosives blew himself up in a restaurant within the Parliament, which was crowded with government official on their lunch break.  Eight people lost their lives, among them three members of parliament: among them Mohammed Hassan, of the Sunni part National Unity Front. More than 23 were injured. .

 

According to sources on the round, police suspect that the suicide bomber was a member of the Parliamentary security guard.  Doubts remain however over how he managed to smuggle such a large quantity of explosives into the building, one of the most secure areas in the capital. 

 

In the immediate aftermath of the attack the executive ordered and investigation; today it is due to discuss security within the fortified zone, which hosts government offices and diplomatic residences. 

 

Despite the numerous deadly attacks which are carried out on a daily basis on the outside, this is the first episode of violence within the perimeters of the Zone.  It is under the constant and strict surveillance of American and Iraqi forces, and entrance to the area is regulated by a number of check points.  Until yesterday, these were entrusted to a private security company, whose licences to operate the Justice Minister has now revoked. 

 

US President Bush has condemned the attack and has underscored that the United States will continue to help Iraq defend itself from extremists.  The suicide bombing, he added “reminds us, though, that there is an enemy willing to bomb innocent people and a symbol of democracy”.

 

Baghdad Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has defined the episode as “a "criminal cowardly act" and added that the violence “would not weaken MPs' resolve.  US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the attack “did not prove that the increased number of troops, whose main aim was to improve security in and around Baghdad, was not working”.

 

 

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