SLUG: 2-306274 Pentagon / Iraq (L-O)
INTRO: Senior U-S defense officials indicate an al-Qaida related terrorist group may have been involved in a bloody bomb attack on the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad. More from V-O-A Correspondent Alex Belida at the Pentagon.
TEXT: Pentagon officials say they are looking into the possibility that the Ansar al-Islam terrorist group may have had a hand in Thursday's deadly car bombing in Baghdad.
Lieutenant General Norton Schwartz is the operations director on the military's Joint Staff. He spoke to reporters at the Pentagon about the group, which the Bush administration has said has close links to and support from al-Qaida.
I think the one organization that we have confidence that we know is in Iraq and in the Baghdad area is Ansar al-Islam. And it is unknown whether this particular organization was associated with the events of this morning. Perhaps that will become clear as we go down the road, but that is an al-Qaida-related organization and one that we are focusing attention on.
The blast outside the Jordanian embassy killed at least 11 people and wounded dozens. Five Iraqi police officers guarding the embassy were reportedly among the dead.
The Pentagon indicates there are no immediate plans to bolster security at sites like foreign embassies by deploying coalition troops.
Again, General Schwartz:
It is far more likely that Iraqis will guard embassies of other nations in Baghdad. And in fact, as you know, we have roughly 33 thousand Iraqi police on duty in Iraq, and roughly - several thousand, anyway, in Baghdad. And that is the way to address the problem, and that is internal security provided in Iraq by Iraqis.
Despite the latest bombing, General Schwartz says security conditions inside Iraq are improving, largely because of daily U-S raids targeting supporters of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. (Signed)
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