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Attackers Wound Member of Iraqi Governing Council - 2003-09-20

A woman member of Iraq's governing council has been shot and seriously wounded in an apparent assassination attempt in Baghdad. Akila al-Hashimi is undergoing treatment at a U.S. Army hospital.

Witnesses say Ms. al-Hashimi's car came under attack, as she was being driven from her home in western Baghdad early Saturday morning.

A security guard in the vicinity, Hussein Hasan, told VOA he raced to the scene with his AK-47 rifle.

Mr. Hasan said several gunmen were in two vehicles, and fired automatic rifles at Ms. al-Hashimi's car and a vehicle carrying her bodyguards.

He said he fired at the assailants, who responded and wounded him in his right hand.

Ms. al-Hashimi was rushed to Baghdad's al-Yarmouk hospital, where she underwent emergency surgery for multiple gunshot wounds. Doctors say her most serious injury was a bullet wound to the abdomen, and she was in serious condition. Three of her bodyguards also were wounded, one of them critically.

Ms. al-Hashimi was later transferred to a U.S. Army medical facility in Baghdad in a convoy protected by American troops.

The U.S. administrator in Iraq, Paul Bremer, issued a statement saying he was "shocked and saddened" by what he called a "horrific and cowardly act."

Ms. al-Hashimi is one of three women on the 25-member governing council. She had previously served as an Iraqi diplomat when Saddam Hussein was in power.

She had been preparing to travel to New York as part of the Iraqi delegation to this month's meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but at least one suspect is reportedly in custody.

Some Iraqis have condemned people who collaborate with the U.S.-led administration in Iraq, and there have been attacks on policemen, interpreters and others who work with the Americans.