Blast Kills 8 at Iraqi Parliament Building

By Karin Brulliard and Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, April 13, 2007

BAGHDAD, April 12 -- A suicide bomber detonated a vest packed with explosives inside Iraq's parliament building Thursday, killing at least eight people in the worst-ever breach of security in the heavily guarded Green Zone.

Elsewhere in the capital, a truck bomb destroyed a bridge over the Tigris River, killing at least one person and severing a link between the now Shiite-dominant eastern side of Baghdad with the Sunni-dominant west.

Three months after President Bush pledged more troops to stabilize Baghdad and two months after a new security plan was launched, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that the operation was still only "at the beginning" and would continue to involve "good days and bad days."

Appearing with Rice in Washington, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a presidential hopeful who this week spoke of "the first glimmers" of progress in the new U.S. effort, said the attack on the parliament building does not change the "larger picture."

The bomb ripped through the parliament's crowded cafeteria at 2:30 p.m., filling the room with thick dust and unnerving parliament members who had just finished a lively, well-attended legislative session. The U.S. military said at least eight people were killed and 23 were wounded.

Among the dead was Sunni politician Mohammed Awad, parliament members said. Iraqi state television said a second legislator, whom it did not name, also was killed.

A senior Iraqi government official said the attack may have been carried out by the bodyguard of a Sunni member of parliament. "Preliminary investigations point to a job inside, by someone inside, possibly a security detail," the senior official said on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

Mowaffak al-Rubaie, Iraq's national security adviser, said in a television interview Thursday night that investigators had identified three suspects linked to the bombing.

Iraqi politicians called the blast an attack on the nation's fledgling political process and pledged to display their resolve and solidarity in a special session Friday. But the bloody attack, inside the most protected area in the city, profoundly shocked many leaders and caused some to question the effects of the heightened security efforts.

"The security plan is dead. If they are able to reach inside the parliament, then we should not talk about the security plan anymore, " said Sunni legislator Saleh al-Mutlaq.

"Nowhere is safe," said Ridha Jawad Taqi, a Shiite member of parliament.

The Green Zone, an area of about four square miles that houses much of Iraq's government as well as the U.S. Embassy, is often hit by rockets and mortar shells that sail over its concrete-wall perimeter, and those attacks have increased in recent months. But only rarely have insurgents penetrated the many checkpoints manned by U.S. soldiers, Iraqi security forces and Peruvian security guards that one must pass to enter.

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