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Shi'a Party Headquarters Bombed In Baghdad

18 January 2005 -- An attack by a car bomber outside the offices of Iraq's largest Shi'a political party killed two people today.

The driver exploded the car when checkpoint guards stopped him from driving up to the building in Baghdad housing the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).

SCIRI spokesman Haithim al-Hussayni said the attack was "another failure" by extremist elements of the ousted Sunni-led regime who are trying "to get the active political parties building a new Iraq."

Insurgents vowing to disrupt the 30 January elections have stepped up their attacks, while Sunni Muslim clerics and several Sunni parties have called for a boycott of an election they believe is unfair.

U.S. President George W. Bush acknowledged in an interview yesterday that fear of violence will keep some Iraqis from voting despite their desire to participate.

"I think having the vote is a victory for those of us who love freedom, including the people in Iraq. And you're right, they're staying away because of fear, not because they don't want to vote, because of fear. But the fact that there's a vote is fantastic," Bush said.

A top U.S. general said yesterday that about 300,000 Iraqi and coalition troops will be available to protect voters.


[For the latest news and analysis on Iraq, see RFE/RL's webpage on "The New Iraq".]