Suicide bomber hits Iraq as crisis lingers

Suicide bomber hits Iraq as crisis lingers

Suicide bomber hits Iraq as crisis lingers

Firefighters and rescuers search for victims at the site of a bomb attack in Baghdad. AP photo

A suicide attacker blew up a bomb-packed car at a Shiite religious foundation’s headquarters in Baghdad yesterday, killing at least 22 people, as political crisis deepens with a powerful Shiite cleric and Iraq’s main secular bloc making new calls to unseat the prime minister.

Shortly after the attack, at least one blast struck near a Sunni foundation’s headquarters in the capital, leaving no casualties, amid a dispute between the two endowments which manage Iraq’s religious landmarks over a shrine north of Baghdad. The first attack struck outside the Shiite endowment in Baab al-Muadham, central Baghdad, and left at least 22 people dead and more than 65 wounded, two medical officials said.

‘Enough votes collected for no-confidence’

The bombing completely destroyed the endowment headquarters, its deputy chief, Sami al-Massudi, told Agence France-Presse. He said the Shiite endowment had received threats in recent days as a result of the dispute over the Al-Askari shrine, a Shiite Muslim site in the mostly Sunni city of Samarra, north of Baghdad. On the political ground, Iraqi lawmakers collected 172 votes, which is enough to take a no-confidence vote against al-Maliki, Anatolia news agency reported. The report said President Jalal Talabani will soon deliver the signatures to the Parliament Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi.

Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and secular Iraqiya bloc have also made new calls to unseat Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

“We say, complete your (good work) and announce your resignation, for the sake of the people... and for the sake of partners,” al-Sadr said in a statement released late June 3. Maysoon al-Damaluji, spokeswoman for the Sunni-backed Iraqiya bloc which is seeking to convince President Jalal Talabani to initiate a vote of no confidence in Maliki, meanwhile called for members of al-Maliki’s National Alliance to quickly find a replacement for the embattled premier.

It is up to “the brothers and sisters in National Alliance to carry the historic responsibility and to work seriously and quickly to find a replacement within the National Alliance,” Damaluji said in an emailed statement yesterday.