Explosion rocks Iraqi parliament cafe

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A bomb rocked Iraq's parliament building in the heavily fortified Green Zone today, killing at least two politicians, officials said.

State television said at least 10 people were wounded at the parliament, which shook a cafeteria while several politicians were eating lunch.

One of the dead politicians was Mohammed Awad, a member of the Sunni National Dialogue Front, said Saleh al-Mutlaq, the leader of the party, which holds 11 seats in Iraq's legislature. A female Sunni politician from the same list was wounded, he said.

A security official at the parliament building said a second politician, a Shiite member, was also killed. He spoke on condition of anonymity.

But Mukhlis al-Zamili of the Shiite Fadhila party said the second dead politician was a Kurd. And he said six of those wounded were members of the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's bloc.

Al-Zamili also said he believed a suicide bomber was behind the attack.

"It seems that the attack was carried by a suicide attacker wearing an explosive vest," he said.

Another member of the National Dialogue Front, Mohammed al-Dayni, told Iraq's Sharqiya television that he too believed it was a suicide attack.

"I am standing now at the site of the explosion and looking at the severed legs of the person who carried out the operation. If this tells us anything, it tells us that security is lax," al-Dayni said.

Earlier in the day, security officials at the parliament used dogs to check people entering the building in a rare precaution - apparently concerned that an attack might take place.

After the blast, security guards sealed the building and no one - including politicians - was allowed to enter or leave.

The brazen bombing was the clearest evidence yet that militants can penetrate even the most secure locations. Masses of US and Iraqi soldiers are on the streets of Baghdad in the ninth week of a security crackdown in the capital and security measures inside the Green Zone have been significantly hardened in recent weeks.

Khalaf al-Ilyan, one of the three leaders of the Iraqi Accordance Front, which holds 44 seats in parliament, said the attack was "aimed at everyone - all parties - our parliament in general being a symbol and a representative of all segments of Iraqi society."

Al-Ilyan, who is in Jordan recovering from knee surgery, said the blast also "underlines the failure of the government's security plan."

"The plan is 100 percent a failure. It's a complete flop. The explosion means that instability and lack of security has reached the Green Zone, which the government boasts is heavily fortified," he said.

A spokesman for the US Embassy in Baghdad said no Americans were injured in today's blast.

"We are aware of reports of an explosion in the Green Zone. We are investigating the nature and source of the explosion," spokesman Lou Fintor said. "No Embassy employees or US citizens were affected."

The parliament bombing came hours after a suicide truck bomb exploded on a major bridge in Baghdad, collapsing the steel structure and sending cars tumbling into the Tigris River, police and witnesses said. At least 10 people were killed.