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Iraqi VP Escapes Bomb Attack


Iraqi officials say a bomb blast at a government building in Baghdad has killed at least six people, but the apparent target of the attack, Iraq's Shi'ite vice president, escaped serious injury. Barry Newhouse reports from Irbil, that the U.S. military Monday, also displayed what it says is more evidence that groups in Iran are arming Iraqi militants.

Iraqi officials reported several bomb attacks in Baghdad, the most serious targeting the public works ministry, where Iraq's Shi'ite vice president was giving a speech. Iraqi police say the explosives were apparently smuggled inside the government building in Baghdad's Mansour District.

Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi was later taken to a hospital and treated for minor injuries.

Iraq's other vice president, Sunni politician Tariq al-Hashemi, on Monday criticized the U.S. backed security plan that is being implemented in Baghdad. In an interview with the Associated Press, al-Hashemi is quoted as saying that legal procedures have not been observed and not all Iraqis are being treated equally under the plan.

Shi'ite militia leader Moqtada al Sadr has also denounced the Baghdad operation. Sadr aides read a statement from the cleric on Monday that cited Britain's recent decision to reduce the number of its forces in Basra, attributing the move to what they called "the resistance."

In Basra, a Sadr aide named Haider al-Jabiri praised Iraqis who "resist" foreign troops.

He says that no security plan is useful. He says thousands of people are dying under a security plan controlled by what he called "the occupier."

Top Iraqi government leaders have praised the Baghdad crackdown for boosting security in the capital.

Despite the claims of improving security, a rights group is warning that Iraq's religious minorities face "extinction." On Monday, the London-based group Minority Rights Group International released a report saying that Iraq's religious and ethnic minorities face "unprecedented levels of violence." The group called for the international community, especially Britain and the United States, to share the burden of caring for the minorities, who make up an estimated 10 percent of Iraq's population.

Meanwhile, Iraq's Kurdish President Jalal Talabani is reported to be in better condition after flying to Amman, Jordan for medical treatment on Sunday.

Iraq's ambassador to Jordan, Sa'ad Al Hayani, blamed the 73-year-old president's condition on exhaustion.

He said Talabani is in stable condition and he urged people not to worry.

Also Monday, U.S. military officials in Baghdad displayed for reporters what they said was new evidence that Iranian-made explosives and rockets are being used by Iraqi militias.

Officials showed a large supply of sophisticated bomb materials discovered in Diyala province on Saturday that they said bore hallmarks of Iranian manufacture. The materials included components of so-called Explosively Formed Projectiles - a type of roadside bomb that combines powerful explosives with precision-crafted copper plates. The bombs are designed to pierce tanks and heavily armored vehicles and have been blamed in the deaths of at least 170 American soldiers.

Military officials said several rockets found among the weapons cache also bore Iranian markings. But the military officials said there is no way to tie the weapons cache directly to the Iranian government.

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