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Iraq: Scores Injured In Explosion At UN Headquarters In Baghdad

Baghdad, 19 August 2003 (RFE/RL) -- A car bomb has brought down the front of Baghdad's Canal Hotel, headquarters for the United Nations in Iraq. Among the wounded was Sergio Vieira de Mello, the UN's special representative in Iraq. Scores of others were wounded as well. Unconfirmed reports say several people were killed in the attack.

Spokeswoman Veronique Taveau said that Benon Sevan, director of the UN oil-for-food program in Iraq, was also injured while giving a press conference.

Several hundred UN staff work in the multistory building in eastern Baghdad. The U.S. Army says that the explosion might have been caused by a car bomb.

In another development today, General Ahmed Ibrahim, Iraq's acting deputy interior minister, announced that people caught sabotaging infrastructure will face up to 25 years in prison. He made the statement after an attack on a water main in Baghdad on 17 August left 300,000 people without water, and two explosions at an oil pipeline temporarily halted oil exports to Turkey.