Iraqi Vice President survives blast as al-Sadr supports security operation

Published February 26th, 2007 - 09:55 GMT

A bomb went off in the Iraqi ministry of public works on Monday during a visit by Vice President Adel Abdel Mahdi. State television said 10 people died in the blast and several wounded, but an interior ministry official said that the Shiite leader was himself unhurt.


Later, police said six people had been killed and 31 injured. According to Reuters, one eyewitness said he had seen four bodies. Two police sources said the explosion took place inside a hall at the time Abdul-Mahdi was at the Public Works Ministry building.


Meanwhile, Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has not withdrawn his support from a U.S.-backed crackdown in Baghdad, his aides said on Monday. Salih al-Ugeyli, a spokesman for Sadr's political movement, said Sunday's statement by al-Sadr  was meant to encourage Iraqi forces to act independently from the U.S. military in the capital.


In his statement, the cleric said the Baghdad security plan would not work because U.S. forces were involved. "The media misinterpreted the statement because we are still fully behind the plan. It was meant as advice for our security forces who are capable of achieving more without American help," Ugeyli said, according to Reuters.


Another senior politician from Sadr's political movement echoed Ugeyli's words. "We have not withdrawn our support for the security plan. All we did was ask Iraqis to take more of a lead and we repeated our demands for a withdrawal of the occupation," said Falah Hasan Shanshal.


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