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U.N. debating pull out?

By Atul Aneja

BAGHDAD Sept. 22. The U.N. is debating pulling out of Iraq following a suicide car bombing outside the U.N. compound this morning.

Diplomatic sources said that the view among the U.N. personnel was the real target was their building itself, but the suicide bomber detonated explosives in the parking lot next to the compound after being confronted by an Iraqi policeman.

The blast killed the policeman beside the suicide bomber himself. Twelve people were wounded in the attack.

The powerful explosion blew the parts of the car to a 100-feet distance, while charred body parts could be seen 40-feet away from the site. The morning attack was the second in a month in which the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad was targeted.

In August 19 attack, 23 people were killed, including the head of the U.N. mission in Iraq, Sergio De Vieira De Mello, after a truck laden with explosives had rammed through the U.N. compound's side wall and exploded.

Meanwhile, Akila al-Hashemi, one of three women on Iraq's Governing Council, remained in critical condition following an assassination attempt by nine gunmen on Saturday, a spokesman for the occupation authority said. Ms. Hashemi is under intense observation at a U.S.-run medical facility in the Republican Palace.

AP reports:

The U.N. Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, warned that if the situation continued to deteriorate, the U.N. operations in Iraq ``will be handicapped considerably''. ``I am shocked and distressed by this latest attack on our premises in Baghdad. I send my sympathy and condolences to the family of the dead police and also our staff who were injured,'' Mr. Annan said.

A U.N. official said six people had not been accounted for. Praising new security arrangements around the hotel, a U.S. military officer credited the Iraq police with preventing an even greater tragedy.

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