Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has condemned Friday's bloody bombing at a Muslim shrine in the Iraqi holy city of Najaf.
Mr. Rumsfeld calls the attack on one of Islam's holy shrines "vicious" and terms the death of Shiite leader Ayatollah Muhammed Baqir al-Hakim a "grievous loss."
But in a written statement, the U.S. defense secretary says those responsible for what he terms the "desperate" attack are doomed to failure. He says they will not disrupt the Iraqi people, the U.S. led Coalition and the world community in their efforts to restore peace to an Iraq free of the remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime.
Mr. Rumsfeld's comments follow earlier condemnations of the terrorist car bombing in Najaf by a White House spokesperson and by the chief U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer.
Mr. Bremer criticized terrorists who he said had again killed innocent Iraqis and proven that they will stop at nothing to prevent the emergence of democracy.
Friday's blast follows earlier bloody bombings this month at the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad as well as at the Jordanian Embassy in the Iraqi capital.
Pentagon sources have described all three bombing sites as vulnerable, so-called "soft targets" that were lightly guarded.
No coalition troops were deployed near the Najaf shrine out of respect for the holy site. Defense officials say U.S. forces were asked to stay away by Shiite leaders.