Baghdad bomb delays selection of assembly

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The Independent Online

As religious and political leaders met in Baghdad yesterday to discuss the selection of a 100-member interim assembly, a few kilometres away seven people were killed and 47 injured when a mortar shell exploded in a busy street.

As religious and political leaders met in Baghdad yesterday to discuss the selection of a 100-member interim assembly, a few kilometres away seven people were killed and 47 injured when a mortar shell exploded in a busy street.

The blast on al-Rasheed set one building on fire and damaged seven cars, Colonel Adnan Abdul-Rahman, of the Interior Ministry, saod. Sabah Kadhim, a ministry spokesman, added that the mortar attack did not appear to be aimed at the conference, but seemed to be a routine attack intended "to create chaos in the country".

The conference was considered a major target for militants waging a 16-month-old insurgency, and two explosions yesterday afternoon shook the convention centre where it was being held, the US military said. A soldier and a civilian security guard were injured. The source of the blasts was unclear.

Ali al-Yassiry, an aide to Muqtada Sadr, said he attended the conference to talk to UN officials about the Najaf violence, and said he was slightly injured in the blast.

The meeting postponed the selection of assembly members until today, sources said.

In Basra, British troops clashed with Shia militiamen in fierce exchanges of fire as darkness fell in the southern port town. Earlier, non-British nationals travelling in two British vehicles were taken to safety by UK troops after their convoy was hit by a roadside bomb. It was not immediately clear how many people were in the vehicles.

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