Iraq's Allawi escapes assassination bid

 

Iraq's caretaker prime minister survived an assassination attempt by a suicide bomber yesterday on the eve of an expected announcement of a new government.

Iyad Allawi escaped unhurt when a suicide bomber in a car attacked his convoy as he headed home from a meeting on a new cabinet line-up, said a government spokesman.

The attack came hours after President Jalal Talabani announced that he hoped the new government would be finalised today — more than 11 weeks after Iraq's historic elections.

One policeman was killed in the blast and four were wounded, police said.

Iraq's al-Qaeda wing claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement posted on the Internet.

"A lion from the martyrs' brigade launched a heroic attack on the headquarters of infidels ... and Jewish and Christian allies. Allawi escaped and the arrow missed, but there are many other arrows," it said.

But he hands on a huge security challenge for his successor, Islamist Shia politician Ibrahim Jaafari.

The shooting of 19 Iraqi National Guardsmen at a soccer stadium north of Baghdad and Mr Talabani's account of 50 bodies being hauled from a river near the capital indicated a revival in violence despite a relative lull after the elections on January 30th.

Three other car bombings in Baghdad killed at least two Iraqi civilians and wounded eight. Two car bombs also struck the entrance of a US and National Guard base in Ramadi, a hotbed of resistance about 60 miles west of Baghdad.