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UN Secretary-General condemns bomb attack

UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan condemned Monday's suicide bombing in the car park of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, in which two people were killed and 19 others injured, according to a UN statement published the same day.

"He (Kofi Annan) is deeply saddened by the death and destruction caused by the attack, which reportedly killed one Iraqi policeman and wounded many others, including Iraqi national staff of the United Nations," Fred Eckhard, spokesman for the UN Secretary-General told reporters at headquarters on Monday.

The bomb went off shortly after 8:00 a.m. local time in a vehicle which was stopped at an Iraqi police checkpoint located at the entrance of the parking lot used by national staff who work in the compound of the Canal Hotel, where the UN’s main offices in Baghdad are located. As it was being inspected, the driver of the vehicle detonated the explosives.

One policeman and the occupant of the car were killed. Two UN national staff members were injured; one is in serious condition but not with life-threatening injuries. Seventeen other people were injured, most of them Iraqi police officers.

"The Secretary-General commends the Iraqi police, whose prompt action averted another major disaster. He conveys his heartfelt condolences to the family of the victim and hopes that the injured will make a full recovery," Eckhard said.

No outside vehicles are allowed inside the UN compound following a car bomb on 19 August that exploded on the front side of the headquarters building, killing 23 people, including the UN's Special Envoy to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and other UN staff. Following that blast, many UN administrative functions were moved to Jordan and Cyprus.

A reduced number of UN staff continue to work in temporary caravans set up behind the Canal Hotel, which housed the headquarters of the UN in Iraq before the blast. Many also live at the compound.

There was no damage to the Canal Hotel, as the explosion took place about 300 metres from the working areas in the Canal compound.

The temporary parking lot across the street behind the building is guarded by Iraqi police and newly hired site-protection guards.

This latest incident once again highlights the need for greater security in the country and the Secretary-General underscored that the UN needed a secure environment to operate in Iraq. “We will go forward,” he said in New York on Monday. “But of course, if it continues to deteriorate, then our operations will be handicapped considerably.”

Asked what it would take from a security perspective for the UN to send back in the staff it had withdrawn, he said: "I think there are two issues: obviously there are discussions about a second resolution which may affect the UN mandate and the role of the UN, and we would obviously need to know what that new role will be for us to determine how we organize ourselves to tackle that".

Several international aid agencies have closed their offices and others have sent many staff to Jordan for several weeks following recent security lapses. At the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC) in Baghdad, a spokeswoman said on Monday that staffers would continue their work in Iraq. The organisation has already cut its staff by more than half and moved remaining workers in the Iraqi capital to buildings away from the street.

“Following this bombing, we have no plans about leaving,” ICRC spokeswoman, Nada Doumani, told IRIN in Baghdad. “Of course it’s terrible, but we have no plans at the moment.”


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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