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Suicide Bomb Explodes Outside Turkish Embassy in Iraq

Suicide Bomb Explodes Outside Turkish Embassy in Iraq

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- A suicide bomber detonated a car packed with explosives near the Turkish Embassy on Tuesday, wounding at least two people, the U.S. military said. The attack came amid widespread Iraqi anger over Turkish plans to deploy troops in the country.

It was the latest in a string of bombings to shake the Iraqi capital. Two days ago, a car bomb targeted the Baghdad Hotel, home to U.S. officials and members of the Iraqi Governing Council. At least eight people including the bomber were killed.

In Tuesday's attack, the car tried to ram through the gates of the embassy in the mid-afternoon and suddenly exploded, witnesses said.

A concrete security barrier close to the embassy absorbed most of the blast and prevented further damage and injuries, U.S. officials said.

A U.S. military spokesman said an explosion occurred about 500 yards from the embassy.

"Two embassy staff members were injured," Col. Peter Mansoor of the 1st Armored Division said. "One was a Turkish and the other an Iraqi. Both of them will be fine and have been transported to the hospital and of course the driver of the vehicle was killed."

U.S. troops and Iraqi police sealed off the area and prevented journalists from approaching the building.

In Ankara, a Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman strongly condemned the attack and said the incident shows "how grave the security situation in Iraq is" and "how strong the need is for everyone to immediately contribute to ensure security and stability in the country."

The blast came amid widespread opposition in Iraq to the possibility of Turkish troops deploying in the country as part of a peacekeeping force sought by the United States.

Turkey's parliament has approved a government request to send peacekeeping troops to Iraq, a move hailed in Washington but opposed by the Iraqi Governing Council and the country's Kurdish minority. The Turks would be the first major contingent from a Muslim country.

Iraqis fear that neighboring Turkey seeks to dominate or grab territory in their country, or that the deployment will cause friction with Kurds in northern Iraq.

On Tuesday, radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said there would be no difference between Turkish soldiers and members of the U.S.-led force, which he wants to leave the country.

Tuedsay's blast was at least the eight suicide or vehicle bombing since early August, most of them in Baghdad.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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