Iraq’s Deputy PM Stable Day After Bomb Attack

By Margaret Besheer

IRBIL, Iraq (VOA) — Iraq’s deputy prime minister, injured in an assassination attempt, was in stable condition and moved out of a Baghdad intensive care unit. Meanwhile, insurgents killed and injured several people in two separate Baghdad attacks, despite the on-going security crackdown in the capital.

Iraq’s health minister, Doctor Ali al-Shummari, told Iraqi television that Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie’s condition is improving. The minister underwent surgery at a U.S. military-run hospital to remove shrapnel from his lungs.

He said Zubaie’s condition is stable and doctors removed his breathing tubes. He said he hoped the minister would be well enough to be discharged in the next few days.

Zubaie was injured at his Baghdad compound when one of his entourage detonated an explosives belt, killing nine people and injuring Zubaie and several others. A few minutes later, a car parked inside the compound also exploded.

One of the minister’s brothers and one of his advisers were among the dead.

Speaking on state-run television, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said an investigation is being conducted into how the bomber was able to get explosives inside the compound undetected.

Mr. Maliki said the attack against Zubaie, a Sunni Arab, proves that the enemies of democracy and change in Iraq are determined to target those who are working hard for the country. He said Zubaie was very active against groups like al-Qaida.

In an Internet posting, the Islamic State of Iraq, a group linked to al-Qaida in Iraq, claimed responsibility for the attack against the deputy prime minister. The group also claimed the mortar strike on Baghdad’s Green Zone that landed directly outside the building where U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Mr. Maliki were holding a news conference.

The authenticity of the claims could not be verified.

Meanwhile, despite a security crackdown in the capital, terrorists carried out two deadly attacks in southern Baghdad.

A suicide truck bomber struck a police station in a mainly Sunni area, killing and injuring several officers and civilians. Earlier, in a Shi’ite enclave, a mortar attack killed three people and wounded several others.

In neighboring Iran, a report from the country’s semi-official Fars agency says 15 British sailors and marines seized by the Iranian navy in disputed waters off Iraq have been transferred to Tehran.

Fars reports that the British detainees are being asked to explain what Iranian officials call their "blatant aggression." The agency quotes Iranian officials as saying the British navy knowingly and illegally entered Iranian territorial waters, and readings from the computerized navigational equipment aboard the seized British boats proves it.

The Britons had just finished searching a merchant vessel when they and their two boats were surrounded and escorted by Iranian ships into Iranian territorial waters. The British government has demanded their immediate and safe return.