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Iraqi Councilwoman Dies of Wounds - 2003-09-25

A woman member of Iraq's Governing Council has died of gunshot wounds she suffered when assassins ambushed her car on Saturday. In another development, a bomb exploded outside a Baghdad hotel used by an American television network, and killed a security guard.

Officials say the Governing Council member, Akila al-Hashimi, died Thursday morning at a U.S. military hospital in Baghdad.

She had been shot in the abdomen by unidentified assailants as she was being driven from her west Baghdad home on Saturday.

She underwent two operations, but doctors could not stop the internal bleeding.

No group has claimed responsibility, and there have been no arrests. But Interior Ministry officials suspect the gunmen were loyalists to the deposed Saddam Hussein regime.

The commander of U.S. military forces in Iraq, Army Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, praised Ms. al-Hashimi and vowed to find her killers.

"She had the courage to step forward and assume the responsibilities of office, while she knew there were a few remnants of the old regime, who were determined to oppose her and her colleagues," he said. "We will continue to hunt down those who murdered her and who murder other innocent Iraqis, who now deserve to live in the freedom that they have worked so hard for."

In another development, an improvised bomb shattered the early morning calm at a small Baghdad hotel that housed some 25 journalists of the U.S.-based NBC television network.

A Somali security guard was killed in the blast at the al-Aike Hotel in east Baghdad. A few of the journalists suffered minor cuts from flying glass.

An NBC producer, Yuval Lion, says the network will not shut down its Baghdad operation.

"Obviously, we are going to have to move, but otherwise, we are going to continue working here," he said.

The bombing was the first apparently deliberate attack on an American media office in Baghdad since the U.S.-led invasion.