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Last Updated: Monday, 26 February 2007, 16:43 GMT
Blast injures top Iraqi officials
Iraqi troops arrive at bombed ministry building
Security forces surrounded the building and made some arrests
A bomb placed inside an Iraqi ministry has exploded during a ceremony attended by Vice-President Adel Abdul Mahdi, injuring him and killing six others.

Police said more than 25 people were injured in the blast at the Public Works Ministry in central Baghdad.

Police are investigating how explosives were smuggled into the building. Iraqi officials are often militant targets.

Mr Abdul Mahdi, who was treated in hospital for minor wounds, had just arrived when the blast occurred.

The Minister of Public Works, Riad Ghraib, was also lightly hurt. Both officials belong to Iraq's largest Shia political coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA).

Violence has continued in the capital and surrounding areas on Monday:

  • At least 13 people died in a suicide car bomb attack on a police checkpoint in the city of Ramadi

  • Five policemen were killed in separate attacks south of Baghdad

  • A mortar shell slammed into a street in central Baghdad, killing a woman and a man.

'Bomb in ceiling'

The ministry is located outside the heavily-fortified international compound known as the Green Zone, where Mr Abdul Mahdi has his office.

The vice president and minister were both briefly treated at the US military hospital there after the blast, but doctors said they had only received "scratches," according to a UIA lawmaker.

Adel Abdul Mahdi

"The explosion happened when the party arrived at the meeting room. It appears that according to the first reports we have that the bomb was in the ceiling of the room," the MP is quoted saying.

Security forces surrounded the building after the blast and were seen making at least one arrest.

Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, who would be succeeded by Mr Abdul Mahdi if he were incapacitated, is currently being treated in hospital in Jordan, after falling ill on Sunday.

Mr Abdul Mahdi shares his post with a Sunni Muslim, Tariq Hashemi. He is thought to be a contender to succeed Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, as the most powerful government official.

US and Iraqi forces are deployed throughout the capital to quell sectarian violence in an operation correspondents say is a final effort to stop Iraq plunging into all-out civil war.

On Sunday, a female suicide bomber wearing a vest packed with explosives killed 42 people at a Baghdad college.


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