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Iraq: Guards Suspected In Assisting UN Bombing In Baghdad

Baghdad, 22 August 2003 (RFE/RL) -- News agencies say investigators of the 19 August bombing of the UN Baghdad headquarters suspect the attackers had inside assistance from Iraqi guards. Agencies quote UN and U.S. officials -- speaking on condition of anonymity -- as saying the guards gave intelligence to the planners of the attack. These officials also say UN envoy to Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello appears to have been the main target of the attack. His body was to be flown to Geneva today to be buried in a French town nearby.

A truck packed with about 300 kilograms of Soviet-made munitions was driven up to the building and detonated in the close proximity of Vieira de Mello's office. The blast killed at least 23 people and wounded more than 100 others. Rescue teams are still searching for victims.

Following the attack, the United Nations ordered the withdrawal of about half of its Baghdad staff to Jordan by the weekend. The UN coordinator in Jordan, Christine McNab, said a core team of UN staff is remaining in Baghdad, and some new staffers are arriving to support continuing humanitarian and reconstruction work.