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Suicide Bombing Targets Senior Iraqi Official - 2004-05-22

In Baghdad, a suicide bomber detonated a car packed with explosives outside the home of a senior Iraqi official Saturday, slightly injuring him but killing several members of his security team. The bombing was the second this week to target an Iraqi official belonging to a prominent Shi'ite Muslim political party.

Dozens of Iraqi policemen positioned themselves outside the badly damaged house of Iraqi Deputy Interior Minister Abdul Jabbar Youssef Al-Sheikhli in an east Baghdad neighborhood.

Witnesses say a huge explosion rocked the area about eight o'clock in the morning after a man in a Chevrolet sedan drove up to the front of the lightly-guarded house and blew the car up. At least nine charred vehicles could be seen smoldering in the vicinity and the windows of several homes nearby had been blown out.

The deputy interior minister, the apparent target of the attack, was inside the house when the blast occurred. He reportedly suffered minor injuries. But a woman, who lives next door to the Iraqi official, says she saw several guards in front of the house blown to pieces by the force of the blast.

The woman, who only identifies herself as Jumana, says some body parts landed on the roof of her house. She says the police took them along with bomb fragments from her yard.

Deputy Interior Minister Sheikhli is one of three deputy officials in the security ministry and a prominent member of the Shi'ite Muslim Dawa Party. On Monday, a suicide car bombing at a checkpoint near the headquarters of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority, killed the president of the Iraqi Governing Council, Izzadine Salim, and six other people. Mr. Salim was also a leader of the Dawa Party in the southern city of Basra.

Surveying the damage Saturday morning at the site of the blast, Iraqi interior minister, Samir Sumaidy, called the attack a terrible crime and told journalists that he will launch an investigation to see if there are links between the two suicide car bombings.

Mr. Sumaidy says he will do his best to conduct a thorough investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice.