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4 killed, 10 injured in Al Arabiya suicide bombing

Baghdad suicide bomber targets Al Arabiya office

Published:

Four people were killed and more than 10 others wounded in Baghdad on Monday when a suicide bomber blew up a vehicle by the offices of Al Arabiya, its correspondent in Baghdad and interior ministry officials said.

The bomber struck at around 9:30 am (06:30 GMT) in front of the station's bureau in the city center, leaving a massive crater and sending a plume of smoke into the air that could be seen from several kilometers (miles) away.

Majid Hamid, a journalist for Al Arabiya, said four people had been killed in the attack -- three security guards and a female office assistant. That toll was confirmed by an official at al-Yarmuk hospital in west Baghdad.

Huge explosion

An interior ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity said that former deputy prime minister Salam al-Zawbayi and two of his guards were among the wounded.

"There was a huge explosion that shook the building -- all the rooms were damaged," Al Arabiya journalist Tareq Maher said in a live broadcast.

Maher said he was in the building when the blast occurred, adding that the building sustained heavy damage and the explosion left a massive crater.

The street in front of the channel's offices was covered in shards of glass and debris, and nearby buildings showed signs of damage as did several cars.

Baghdad security spokesman Major General Qassim Atta said that the explosives-laden vehicle had passed through a checkpoint, and charged that there may have been "cooperation" between the car's driver and the guards.

Major General Jihad al-Jaabari, the head of the Iraqi army's explosives handling unit, said the bomber was an Iraqi and added that the vehicle was carrying more than 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of ammonium nitrate.

"He was waved through, but if they had searched him, it would have been easy to find the explosive material," Jaabari said.

Al-Qaeda documents

The bomber, who was driving a minibus, was apparently waved through the first checkpoint after security guards checked his identification, Iraqi military spokesman Maj. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi said.

A total of 249 media workers have been killed since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, according to the Iraq-based Journalism Freedom Observatory.

Al Arabiya TV is among the most popular Arabic news stations and has been targeted in the past.

In September 2008, its Baghdad bureau chief, Jawad Hattab, escaped unharmed after spotting a bomb, which would-be assassins had attached to his car, before it was detonated by remote control.

In October 2006, a car bomb targeting the channel's then bureau killed seven people and wounded 20.

And in February 2006, Al Arabiya presenter Atwar Bahjat and two of her colleagues were kidnapped and murdered in the town of Samarra north of Baghdad as they covered the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine.

Iraq is on high alert for insurgent attacks after a March 7 national election produced no clear winner and left the country adrift in political uncertainty.

Overall violence has dropped sharply since the height of sectarian carnage in 2006-7. But daily bombings and killings continue, suggesting insurgents are trying to exploit the vacuum as political rivals jostle for power.