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Annan Condemns Baghdad Attack on UN Compound - 2003-08-20

Investigators and emergency personnel continued to search the rubble of the United Nations compound in Baghdad Wednesday after a truck bomb killed at least 17 people and injured more than 100.

United Nations personnel are still in shock the day after a huge truck bomb ripped through their headquarters in Baghdad. U.S. military authorities say the blast was caused by a yellow cement truck loaded with explosives that was detonated next to the building.

The dead in the blast included the United Nations special representative in Iraq.

Sergio Vieira de Mello was in his office at the time of the explosion Tuesday afternoon, as were most United Nations staff. Mr. Vieira De Mello was trapped in the rubble. Rescuers pulled him from the wreckage, but he later died of his injuries.

In Stockholm, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan condemned the attack and paid tribute to Mr. Vieira De Mello as one of the finest members working with the United Nations.

Mr. Annan also pledged that the United Nations would continue its mission in Iraq. "We have work to do, we will persevere. We will not be intimidated," he said.

A U.N. spokesman in Baghdad said they were still sifting through the ruined building and hoped to find survivors, although that hope was running out. He added that they expected the death toll to increase since many were thought to be buried in the collapsed section of the Canal Hotel that housed the United Nations operation.

The United Nations in New York and world leaders were quick to condemn the bombing, calling it a terrorist act, and vowed to bring those responsible to justice.

The blast comes less than two weeks after another car bomb blew up the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad, killing 17 people.

Attacks throughout Iraq recently have targeted U.S. troops and the country's infrastructure, but the United Nations said this was the first attack against its personnel in Iraq.

United Nations officials say they will reassess their continuing role in Iraq and are making travel arrangements for any of their staff who want to leave the country.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing.