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"Allawi is still our target"

Atul Aneja

MANAMA: An Islamic group led by a Jordanian militant has claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt on the former Iraqi Interim President, Iyad Allawi.

The Organisation for Holy War in Iraq that supposedly has links with Al-Qaeda said, in an Internet statement, "A lion from the martyrs' brigade launched a heroic attack on the headquarters of infidels ... Allawi escaped and the arrow missed, but there are many other arrows."

A suicide car bomber attacked Mr. Allawi's convoy on Wednesday after he left a meeting on the formation of a new Cabinet line-up.

Cabinet formation put off

The President, Jalal Talabani, later told CNN Turk that the formation of the new government scheduled for Thursday might now be postponed.

The United Iraqi Alliance, a Shia dominated grouping that has won maximum number of seats in Parliament reportedly offered Mr. Allawi's Iraqiyah Party two seats in the Cabinet, a proposal that was refused.

Consensus has also still not been reached on the allocation of portfolios to the Sunnis, Iraq's second largest population group which mostly boycotted the January 30 national elections.

Chopper shot down

Iraqi guerillas have apparently shot down a Russian built Mi-8 helicopter, in which three Bulgarians and six others are feared killed.

"So far, the facts show the helicopter and its three crew were probably Bulgarian," the Bulgarian Deputy Foreign Minister, Gergana Grancharova, was quoted as saying.

The Foreign and Defence Ministries were still investigating the crash, she said.

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