Iraqi parliament holds emergency session after blast

Published April 13th, 2007 - 11:02 GMT

Few Iraqi lawmakers managed to attend a rare emergency legislative session Friday, a day after a suicide bomber ripped through their cafeteria in an attack inside Baghdad's U.S.-guarded Green Zone.


Both Iraqi and US officials Friday revised down their estimates of those killed in the suicide bombing, which penetrated several layers of security. The U.S. issued a statement saying one civilian died.


But Iraqi parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani opened Friday's session by asking members of recite verses from the Quran to mourn the death of a "hero, the parliament member Mohammed Awad." Awad, a Sunni, was a member of the moderate National Dialogue Front. Party leader Saleh al-Mutlaq also confirmed his death, and said a female lawmaker from the same list was wounded.


Friday's emergency meeting had been scheduled to start at 11 a.m., but commenced about 1.5 hours late because of low turnout and increased security measures. Many lawmakers were unable to reach the parliament building, whose interior was still in shambles Friday.


"Very few parliament members showed up because of the curfew," said Mohammed Abu Bakr, head of the parliament's media office. "Also the MPs' turnout is very low today because most of them are visiting those who were wounded by the blast," he said, according to the AP.


Parliament speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani called for the session to "defy terrorism," state television quoted him as saying.


The U.S. military said Friday that one Iraqi civilian was killed and 22 injured in the attack. The night before, U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell had said eight people died.


"Yesterday's reports were based on initial reports from the scene. During evacuation operations, emergency responders and eyewitnesses reported that casualties were being evacuated in multiple directions," the statement said.



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