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At Least 4 Killed In Blast Outside al-Arabiya Baghdad Bureau

  • Elizabeth Arrott

Iraqi authorities say a car bomb exploded outside the Baghdad offices of al-Arabiya television, killing at least four people.

The bomber apparently was let through two security checkpoints on the street leading up to al-Arabiya's bureau in the capital.

The head of the police anti-explosives unit, General Jihad al-Jabiri, said the effect was devastating.

Al-Jabiri said the internal and external pressure of the blast led to a total destruction of al-Arabiya TV station headquarters. Witnesses said the interior of the building was in shambles.

The Saudi-owned, Dubai-based station was among several foreign media threatened with attack in recent weeks. A government spokesman said the blast had the hallmarks of the insurgent group al-Qaida in Iraq.

Officials said security measures had been enhanced around the al-Arabiya building. But like other checkpoints throughout the city, bombers have frequently been waved through, leading to suspicions of corruption, collusion or simply incompetence by those manning the posts.

Al-Arabiya is no stranger to being targeted. The head of the bureau escaped a failed bombing attempt in 2008. Other media groups have been blasted out of their offices this year, in a series of hotel bombings in Baghdad.

Aides to lawmaker Salam al-Zubaie say the politician was among the wounded in Monday's attack. Al-Zubaie, who lives near the station, is a member of Iraqiya, the bloc led by former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi. Neither Iraqiya nor the coalition led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki received enough seats in March elections to form a government outright. Nearly five months later, the parties remain deadlocked.

The political impasse comes as the United States prepares to withdraw an additional 50,000 troops from Iraq by the end of next month.

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