Last updated: 2 December, 2011

Iraq blast was assassination attempt says official

Iraqi Major General Qassim Atta on Friday said an explosion near parliament was a botched attempt to kill the prime minister, after an official termed it an attempt on the parliament speaker’s life.

At least one person was killed and two wounded in the blast near the Iraqi parliament building on Monday, the cause of which was disputed. MP Muayid al-Tayyeb was one of those hurt.

“The intelligence information that we obtained showed that this operation was conducted to target the prime minister,” Baghdad security spokesman Atta told AFP.

“The person was supposed to bring the car inside the parliament parking, and leave it there for four days until (Prime Minister Nuri) al-Maliki attended a session of the parliament,” Atta said.

“He failed to bring the car inside the parking, so he blew himself up,” he said, adding that “the car entered the Green Zone with a convoy.”

“We arrested two groups involved in this operation,” Atta said.

He told a news conference on Friday that the vehicle was a black SUV containing 20 kilogrammes of locally-made explosives.

A burned body has been found at the scene was suspected of being the body of the “terrorist,” he said.

Iraqi security officials, an MP and a US military spokesman had on Monday given a laundry list of potential causes for the blast, saying that it was alternatively from a mortar shell, a suicide bomber, or a magnetic “sticky bomb.”

Atta is the second official to allege that the blast was an attempt on a high-ranking Iraqi politician’s life.

Aidan Helmi, media adviser to parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, said on Monday that the explosion was caused by a suicide bomber and called it a botched “assassination attempt” on Nujaifi.

“One man in a black vehicle that looks like the vehicles of Nujaifi’s convoy tried to enter the VIP gate of parliament,” possibly aiming to join the speaker’s convoy, Helmi told AFP.

“When he tried to enter, the guards asked him for a special badge, so he backed up, hitting a car behind him and the pavement.

“He then got out of the car and started arguing with the driver of the car behind him, and suddenly he blew himself up.”

“Mr Nujaifi was in his room, and he was late because I talked to him for 15 minutes,” Helmi said.

“This is an assassination attempt against Mr Nujaifi. The question is not which party the attacker belonged to, but rather how he managed to arrive here with this vest.”