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Iraqi Deputy PM Injured in Bomb Blast


One of Iraq's deputy prime ministers has been injured in a double bombing at his Baghdad compound. Iraqi officials say Salam al-Zubaie underwent surgery and his condition is now stable, but six other people were killed in the blast. From northern Iraq, VOA's Margaret Besheer has more.

Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie was operated on to remove shrapnel following an explosion at his Baghdad compound. The blast occurred in a small building used for praying in the garden of the complex, behind the Iraqi Foreign Ministry, near Baghdad's Green Zone.

In a telephone interview with Iraqiya Television, military spokesman Brigadier Qassim al-Mousawi said the blasts happened at about 12:30 Friday afternoon.

The brigadier said Zubaie and several of his bodyguards were praying in the building when one of the guards triggered an explosives belt he was wearing. He said several people were killed and injured. The injured, including the minister, were all taken to the U.S. military-run Ibn Sina hospital inside the Green Zone. One of Zubaie's advisers was confirmed to be among the dead.

Mousawi said a few minutes after the bodyguard blew himself up, there was a second explosion. This time it was from a car parked inside the compound.

Mousawi said an investigation is under way to determine exactly how the explosives got inside the compound.

The deputy prime minister is a prominent member of the Iraqi Islamic Party, one of the main Sunni Arab political blocs.

The White House has denounced the bombing as "another completely reprehensible act" by those "who are doing whatever they can to try to disrupt things" in Iraq.

In other violence, a car bomb exploded in eastern Baghdad killing several people. Also, the U.S. military announced the deaths of two more American service members. They were killed Thursday, one in Baghdad and the other in the volatile western province of al-Anbar.

In a separate development, British and American military officials say Iranian forces seized 15 British sailors and marines Friday.

They were seized in long-disputed waters just outside the mouth of the Shatt al-Arab waterway that divides Iraq from Iran. A 1975 treaty gave the waters to Iraq, but Iran disputes Iraq's jurisdiction over them.

Lt. Kaye Trammell, spokeswoman for the U.S. Fifth Fleet and Combined Task Force 158 in Bahrain, told VOA that there was no question about where the British ship conducting anti-smuggling search operations was.

"But, in this case, the boarding teams from the Cornwall were operating well inside the observed Iraqi territorial waters," she said.

The Britons had just finished searching a merchant vessel when they and their patrol boats were surrounded and escorted by Iranian vessels into Iranian territorial waters. The British government has demanded their immediate and safe return.

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