Iraqi deputy oil minister escapes assassination attempt


Baghdad : Iraqi deputy oil minister escaped an assassination attempt on Monday, the Oil Ministry spokesman said.

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IRNA reporter in Baghdad said that Iraqi Parliament passed a bill that would grant the country’s minorities guaranteed seats in coming elections the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq had recommended.

Parliament passed a bill on provincial elections but, had deleted from it an article dealing with representation of Iraq’s many minorities.

In the assassination attempt against the deputy oil minister, the official, Saheb Salman Qutub, was wounded, along with his driver, when a bomb planted in his car exploded, according to a ministry spokesman, Asim Jihad.

The explosion occurred as Qutub was getting into the car at his home in the northern Baghdad neighborhood of Atafiya to go to work, Jihad said.

He said that a Japanese delegation visited the ministry on Monday to discuss investments in Iraq’s lucrative oil and gas sectors.

In other violence, a huge car bomb exploded in a parking lot next to the headquarters of the local government in Baquba, in Diyala Province, killing at least 3 and wounding 13, including 8 police officers, according to security and provincial officials.

The blast destroyed 22 vehicles and badly damaged several nearby government buildings.

Ibrahim Bajlan, who heads the Diyala provincial council, said that the attack was proof that the situation in the province remained “fragile” and that the government’s recent security operation had “only accomplished a fraction of its goals.”
Fourteen other people were wounded in four other bombing attacks in Baghdad, according to the official of the Interior Ministry.

The bill would give Christians a single seat on councils in Baghdad, Basra and Nineveh, instead of the three seats in Baghdad, three in Nineveh and one in Basra that were proposed by the United Nations mission.

The Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking minority who, like Christians, have been reeling from attacks and displacement since the start of the war in 2003, would get one seat in Nineveh, instead of the three proposed.

Two other minorities, the Shabaks and the Sabeans, would get one seat apiece.

The new bill is supposed to be a compromise following the controversy that erupted in late September when Parliament passed the elections bill but deleted an article that had provided 13 seats in six provinces for Iraqi Christians, Yazidis and other minorities.

The new bill would grant only six seats. The United Nations mission had proposed 12.

Younadim Kanna, one of two Christians in Parliament, described Monday’s vote as “a great insult.”

“There is no desire to respect minorities as the indigenous people of this country,” he said.

Elections are expected to be held in most of the country early next year.