Four killed in Arab TV office bomb attack

A suicide bomber driving a minibus blew himself up in front of the Baghdad office of a popular Arabic-language satellite news channel early today, killing four people, police and hospital officials said.

Majid Hamid, a Baghdad-based correspondent for the Saudi Arabia-owned, Dubai-based channel, said the bomber was able to pass through the first security gate and detonate the bomb.

He was apparently waved through the first checkpoint after security guards checked his identification, said Iraqi military spokesman Major General Qassim al-Moussawi.

He said three guards and a cleaning woman were killed in the blast and another 10 people were injured.

Maj Gen Al-Moussawi said Iraqi officials had previously found al Qaida documents indicating that the militant group planned to target Arab news channels in the country. He said the channel was informed.

“This has the clear fingerprints of al-Qaida,” he told the channel.

Al-Arabiya correspondent Tarek Maher said he was in the building when the explosion happened. He said the building was badly damaged and the blast left a massive crater.

Al-Arabiya is among the most popular Arabic news stations, but has been viewed by militants in Iraq as too pro-Western and has been targeted in the past.

Two years ago, the television’s Baghdad bureau manager escaped assassination when a bomb was found under the seat of his car as he prepared to leave home for work.

In other violence, a bomb loaded with nails and hidden in a pile of rubbish exploded in the northern town of Beiji, killing three people, hospital officials said.

Dr Saad Muhsin, who works at the Beiji hospital, said five other people were injured.

Violence has declined sharply in Iraq, but concerns are mounting that militants are looking to take advantage of the political vacuum resulting from politicians’ inability to form a government four months after the March elections as the US draws down its combat forces to 50,000 by the end of August.

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