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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

23 March 2007

White House Condemns Attack on Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister

Incident shows need to continue implementing security plan, says Snow

Washington -- The White House strongly condemned a March 23 suicide attack that seriously wounded Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zoubai.

Zoubai’s condition stabilized after surgery in a U.S. military hospital in Baghdad, Iraq, to remove shrapnel from his shoulder and abdomen after an assailant detonated explosives near the minister as he left his home following Friday prayers.  The attack killed nine other Iraqis, including the Sunni politician's brother.  

"It's another completely reprehensible act that demonstrates that there are some terrorists who are going to do whatever they can to try to disrupt things," White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters.

The attack comes as Iraqi and coalition forces continue to implement a new Baghdad security plan designed to bring sectarian violence and terrorist attacks under control by clearing neighborhoods of extremists, establishing regular patrols to keep them from returning, and working with community leaders to rebuild their communities. 

But even though overall violence is declining, enemies of the new Iraq have responded with a series of attacks, several featuring previously unseen tactics, Major General Michael Barbaro told reporters at the Pentagon on March 20. (See related article.) 

In several recent incidents, terrorists have used tanker trucks carrying chlorine as bombs, spreading clouds of choking gas with the blast.  On March 18, terrorists snuck a car bomb past checkpoints by using children in the vehicle as decoys, leaving the children in the car when the terrorists abandoned and detonated it.

On March 22, they also attempted a rocket attack on Baghdad's fortified "Green Zone" government complex during a visit by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Iraqi and coalition officials are working to investigate the circumstances surrounding the attack on the Iraqi official. Snow said the incident “reaffirms once again the importance of having a focused commitment to Baghdad and elsewhere in building conditions for peace.”

U.S. MONITORING SITUATION INVOLVING IRANIAN SEIZURE OF BRITISH BOAT

Snow also said that the United States is monitoring the seizure of 15 British Royal Marines by Iranian forces. 

Snow said that the incident occurred in Iraqi waters while the British were conducting a routine search of merchant shipping in accordance with their U.N.-approved security mission in the Gulf. 

Media reports say the boarding party was surrounded by Iranian vessels that escorted it into Iranian territorial waters, where the British were arrested.  State Department officials have been in contact with their British counterparts, spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters later in the day.

"The British government is demanding an immediate and safe return of the people and equipment, and we're keeping watch on the situation," Snow said.

Snow declined to speculate whether the Iranian naval action was linked to the U.N Security Council’s March 24 meeting, in which it will consider implementing another round of sanctions against Iran for its failure to halt its disputed nuclear program. (See related article.)

“We want to support the Iranian people in everything they want, including the ability to have peaceful nuclear power,” Snow said.  “And the international community is perfectly united on this and has been moving in a patient and careful manner to make its will known to the Iranian government.”

For more information, see Iraq Update.

(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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