A suicide bomber driving a minibus blew himself up in front of the Baghdad office of a popular Arabic news station today, killing six people, and burying a politician alive under the rubble of his collapsed home.
The bomber was apparently waved through two checkpoints leading to the Al-Arabiya television station after security guards checked his identification, a spokesman for the Iraqi military said. He said the explosion occurred about 10 minutes after the bomber cleared the second checkpoint.
“This has the clear fingerprints of al-Qaida,” the spokesman said, adding that an investigation had been launched to determine how the bomber was cleared through two checkpoints.
Two police officials and a hospital official said three guards, a driver, a passer-by and a 50-year-old cleaner were killed in the massive blast that sent cars flying and collapsed nearby buildings.
The attack also wounded 16 people, including former deputy prime minister Salam al-Zubaie, who lives nearby.
Mr al-Zubaie, a member of parliament representing the Iraqiya list headed by former prime minister Ayad Allawi, was rescued from under the rubble of his demolished home.
The politician is a member of former prime minister Allawi’s coalition, which is locked in a tough battle with prime minister Nouri al-Maliki to see who will be the country’s next leader.
Mr Allawi could be seen walking out of building after inspecting the damage. American troops riding in Humvees also came by to inspect the damage.
The spokesman said Mr al-Zubaie’s wounds were serious and he was undergoing surgery in the Green Zone which houses Iraq’s government and the US Embassy.
In March 2007, a suicide bomber concealed among worshippers blew himself up in Mr al-Zubaie’s home, wounding him in the abdomen.
Mr al-Arabiya correspondent Tarek Maher said that the relatively low death toll was because none of the station’s administrative staff were in the office at the time of the blast.
Al-Arabiya is among the most popular Arabic news stations, but has been viewed by militants in Iraq as too pro-Western. The station regularly interviews US presidents and has been targeted in the past.