Top Iraqi Official Wounded in Bombing Iraq's deputy prime minister, Salam al-Zubaie, has been wounded in a suicide bombing at a mosque in the courtyard of his compound. The blast left nine people dead.
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Top Iraqi Official Wounded in Bombing

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Top Iraqi Official Wounded in Bombing

Top Iraqi Official Wounded in Bombing

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

From the studios of NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY, I'm Madeleine Brand.

JOHN YDSTIE, host:

And I'm John Ydstie.

Coming up, the House bill requiring President Bush to pull combat troops from Iraq by the fall of 2008. We'll have more on that later in the program.

BRAND: First, in Iraq today, a suicide bomber blew himself up and severely wounded Iraq's deputy prime minister, Salam al-Zubaie. Al-Zubaie is reported to be in stable condition now. Nine people were killed in that attack. Here with us now is NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro in Baghdad. Hi, Lourdes.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO: Hi, Madeleine.

BRAND: So you were near the place where these bombings took place, I understand?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yes, indeed. There were two explosions minutes apart. They rocked our house. We saw wounded people covered in blood with singed hair being evacuated. Apparently, what we were told is that one of his own personal security detail walked into the house, detonated his suicide-bomber belt, and he had set his car, which was also packed with explosives, to detonate a few minutes later.

Now this has become a typical strategy to cause maximum damage in these kinds of attacks. The deputy prime minister was wounded and was taken immediately to a U.S. military hospital in the green zone. Now, this is an area with very tight security. It's not in the green zone, but it's near the green zone, where the deputy prime minister lives, and not just anyone can get through to Salam al-Zubaie's house.

He had asked, apparently, that members of his staff not be checked so stringently, which is why apparently this attacker was able to get through. It also obviously raises a lot of questions about the vetting of the staff.

BRAND: Right, and this is actually a security member, right?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's right. He was a member of his personal security team. They've actually named him. According to witnesses that we were able to speak to, he walked into the house, he said salam aleikum, which means hello, and then detonated his belt.

BRAND: Well, al-Zubaie is Sunni, so is there suspicion that there is sort of a larger group behind this attempted assassination?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Obviously, we don't really know who may be behind this, but it may be something certainly that the Sunni-led insurgency could've authored. Al-Zubaie is part of the biggest Sunni block in parliament. He has been at odds with the Shiite prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, but he is particularly hated by groups such as al-Qaida in Iraq and other hard-core, militant, Sunni-led groups here, who see him as a collaborator.

In recent Web postings, they've excoriated him for his participation in the government. They see him as someone who's betrayed his Sunni heritage.

BRAND: And tell us more about him. I understand he comes from an agriculture background.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's right. He's someone who comes from a very well-known tribe in the area around the former Abu Ghraib prison, which is in the Sunni heartland. Sources told the Reuters news agency that apparently rival factions in his tribe are feuding at the moment.

One is supporting al-Qaida. The other is supporting the deputy prime minister. That was according to an aide to the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and this is something that we're seeing a lot of in the heartland of Al Anbar Province, where a lot of the Sunni-led insurgency comes from.

There is this divide right now, where the tribes are basically almost at war with each other. Some of the tribe members saying - we don't want to be involved in this anymore, we don't want to be involved with Iraqis killing Iraqis. And other tribe members siding with al-Qaida in Iraq, saying that they want to liberate their country from what they say are foreign powers and the invasion of this country.

BRAND: You know, at first when I heard about this in the news, I assumed it must have been, you know, a Shiite militia member or somebody loyal to the Shiite cause, but actually what you're saying is that it's internal strife. It's Sunni-on-Sunni violence now.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, we don't really know, but it certainly could've been internal strife, and we are seeing this across Iraq. I mean, everyone tends to view the conflict here in terms of sort of monolithic groups. You have the Sunnis versus the Shiite, and that certainly is part of it, but within all these sort of religious groups, there are divisions. This is a very fertile time right now in Iraq, and it's a very precarious time, and I think it's also a very dangerous time for members of the government, and we've seen that today.

BRAND: Lourdes, thank you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You're welcome.

BRAND: That's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro in Baghdad.

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