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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 August, 2003, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
Iraq 'not out of control'
Jack Straw
Jack Straw said fanatical terrorists were trying to destabilise Iraq
The coalition forces in Iraq are not losing control of the country despite an increase in terrorist attacks, according to Foreign Minister Jack Straw.

He was speaking after a bomb attack on the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad left at least 17 people dead.

Mr Straw said it was too early to speculate whether al-Qaeda had been involved but he said it was clear "fanatical terrorists" were trying to stop the rebuilding of the country.

He admitted there had been escalating "organised" terrorist attacks in the country, including the bombing of the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad and an attack on a vital oil pipeline.

Mr Straw told BBC One's Breakfast News: "These are more than sporadic attacks in Iraq, given the organisation required for the attack on the oil pipe and now this.

Here we are months after the famous fall of the statue and the security and economic situation for the people of Iraq is continuing to descend into gang warfare and anarchy
Dan Plesch
Royal United Services Institute

"US and UK security forces have got to take this very seriously."

Middle East commentators have accused the coalition of not being effective in stabilising the country.

"Here we are months after the famous fall of the statute (of Saddam in Baghdad) and the security and economic situation for the people of Iraq is continuing to descend into gang warfare and anarchy," Dan Plesch, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, told Breakfast.

The UN had requested low-key security for its Baghdad building to distinguish it from the coalition forces.

Briton killed

More than 100 people were injured when a bomb in a cement lorry blew up outside.

Among the dead was Fiona Watson, a Briton on the staff of the head of the UN mission to Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, who was also killed.

Mr Straw described it as a "totally unjustified attack".

He conceded: "August has been a bad month.

There has never been a clear demand from the Security Council for there to be UN command forces on the ground
Jack Straw

"However underneath these very high profile incidents, there is progress being made.

"Interim Iraqi ministers are being appointed. A lot of progress has been made to get children back in schools, hospitals operating and infrastructure round the country moving."

He accepted the coalition had done "insufficient planning" for filling the power vacuum left after the end of the war.

"We had not anticipated that the Saddam regime would collapse so quickly," he said.

Earlier, he denied there was a need for the UN to step in and take military command in Iraq.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "There has never been a clear demand from the Security Council for there to be UN command forces on the ground.

"The people who we want to call the shots in Iraq are the people of Iraq."



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