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Baghdad Bombing 'Shocks' Britain - 2004-06-17

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says Thursday's car bombing in Baghdad is a direct attack on the Iraqi people, but it will not affect the June 30 transfer of power to the interim Iraqi government. Mr. Straw says he was shocked by the magnitude of the large car bomb outside an Iraqi army recruitment center.

The foreign secretary told reporters in London that terrorists want to undermine the June 30 handover of power in Iraq from the U.S.-led occupation.

"This is an attack directed at the Iraqi people. The terrorists used to justify their terror, saying it was against the occupation," says Mr. Straw. "The occupation is going to end in 12 days' time. Now, the terrorists appear to be trying to stop the transfer of power to the Iraqi people themselves."

Mr. Straw says such attacks will have no impact on the transfer of sovereignty to the new interim Iraqi government. "We, and I know the Iraqi people, will not be deterred by this terror. The transfer of power will take place," he says. "The Iraqis will take control of their own lives and their own nation, and will have our support in doing so."

Prime Minister Tony Blair's human rights envoy to Iraq, Ann Clwyd, told British radio, more such bombings are feared. "The Iraqis themselves did say when I was there three weeks ago that, in fact, they thought attacks of this kind would continue with increased ferocity up to June 30, and possibly for six months afterwards," she says.

Ms. Clwyd says Iraq's security climate could improve dramatically by next year, as Iraqis themselves take on more responsibility for securing the country.