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Jordanian Mission Possible Target of Deadly Fuel Tanker Explosion in Baghdad


Eyewitnesses who saw a fuel tanker explode in a Baghdad neighborhood late Friday night, say the vehicle was wired with explosives, and headed for the Jordanian mission when it blew up.

The debris amid the charred wreckage of a large fuel tanker was still smoldering Saturday, hours after an explosion tore through a neighborhood in the Mansour district of western Baghdad. Mansour is home to many embassies, diplomats and government officials.

An eyewitness, Jameer Hussein, says, around 9:30 Friday night, he saw a fuel tanker with its headlights turned off, speeding down a street where the Libyan, Syrian and Jordanian embassies are located.

Mr. Hussein says the truck was traveling at a high speed, and the guards at the embassies could not stop it from coming down the street. He says the truck then crashed into a concrete barrier and exploded, sending up a fireball that could be seen for several kilometers.

The explosion was so powerful, a nearby home collapsed, burying seven family members. Rescuers dug up the bodies from the rubble Saturday morning, bringing the official death toll to nine. More than a dozen other people were rushed to the hospital with serious injuries.

Iraqi police say they are investigating the incident, and have not yet issued an official statement. But a security guard working at the Jordanian Embassy, Ahab Abdul Razad, says he believes the tanker was intended to be used in a suicide attack against the mission.

Mr. Razad says the mission has received several serious threats against it in the past few weeks. He says he is certain that the Jordanian Embassy was the target.

Jordanian diplomats moved into a housing complex in Mansour, after a truck bomb destroyed their main embassy in August 2003. Seven people were killed in that attack, claimed by Jordanian-born Islamic terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Neighboring Jordan is an ally of the United States, with major commercial ties to Iraq.

Meanwhile, police in Baghdad say they have found the body of a kidnapped member of Iraq's interim National Assembly.

Wijdan al-Khuzaie, who was also a member of the now-defunct Iraqi Governing Council, was kidnapped three days ago in front of her home by a group of unknown assailants.