Attack on Jordan embassy in Iraq kills 11

A MASSIVE car bomb exploded outside the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad yesterday morning, killing at least 11 people and wounding 57, hospital officials said.

Two US soldiers died in a gun battle in another part of the Iraqi capital.

The two soldiers of the 1st Armoured Division died in a firefight in the Al Rashid district of the Iraqi capital at 11pm on Wednesday night, the military said. A translator with the soldiers was wounded, according to the US Central Command in Tampa, Florida.

Until the announcement yesterday, no American soldier had been reported killed in the guerrilla insurgency since late Friday night.

The deaths brought to 55 the number of US forces killed in combat since May 1, when US President George W Bush declared that major fighting had ended.

The military said it was withholding the names of the two latest victims until family members were notified.

Shortly after the blast at the Jordanian Embassy, young Iraqi men stormed the gate and began destroying pictures of Jordanian King Abdullah II and his late father, King Hussein. They shouted anti-Jordanian chants, but were quickly dispersed by US forces and Iraqi police.

The bomb was believed to have been planted in a minibus parked outside the walled embassy compound and detonated remotely. Many cars were gutted and two bodies were seen still sitting in the vehicles.

A US tank was parked outside the embassy compound on the west edge of Baghdad. Soldiers in armoured vehicles and Humvees cordoned off the area.

Mandoh Gaahi, who witnessed the explosion, said the blast shook buildings and broke windows hundreds of yards away.

Two of the dead were still inside the shells of two cars. One mangled vehicle could be seen on top of a building next to the embassy.

Jordan yesterday condemned the deadly attack against its embassy in Baghdad as an organised act of terrorism, but refused to speculate on the cause.

But an official who declined to be named did not rule out a link with Jordan’s decision to give asylum to ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s two daughters and their children.

A car bomb exploded outside the embassy earlier yesterday killing 11 people and wounding 57, according to the director of the morgue at the hospital where most of the casualties were taken.

A doctor at the same hospital said two of the dead were Jordanian, but officials in Amman denied it, saying only that 15 embassy employees, some of them Iraqi, were injured.

“From the way it has been carried out it looks to be an intended and organised act,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Shaher Bak said “We still don’t know exactly who is responsible for this attack nor the reason for it,” he added. But a senior official noted that King Abdullah II’s decision to give a home to Saddam’s two daughters and their nine children, along with his half-sister and her family, had triggered “virulent” criticism from a newspaper run by Ahmad Chalabi. Mr Chalabi is a member of the US-backed transitional Iraqi Governing Council and a fierce opponent of the Saddam regime, who has been sentenced by Jordan in absentia to 22 years in prison for allegedly embezzling 900 million dollars from a bank he ran in Baghdad.

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