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Suicide bomber targets Al-Arabiya TV`s Baghdad office: interior ministry

International Desk |
Update: 2010-07-25 15:22:24
Suicide bomber targets Al-Arabiya TV`s Baghdad office: interior ministry

At least five people were wounded in Baghdad on Monday when a suicide bomber blew up a vehicle by the offices of the Saudi-funded Al-Arabiya television channel, the interior ministry said.

The bomber struck during the morning near the television`s bureau in the city centre, wounding five people according to a preliminary casualty toll, an interior ministry official told AFP speaking on condition of anonymity.

Al-Arabiya closed its Baghdad office in June citing government warnings of a threat of insurgent attack.

"Interior ministry sources told us they had information that terrorist groups were closely watching the bureau in preparation for an attack," an Al-Arabiya journalist told AFP at the time, asking not to be identified.

"The management asked all staff -- journalists and technicians -- not to come to work."

The pan-Arab television channel has been no stranger to attack by suspected Sunni Arab insurgents or pressure from Iraq`s Shiite-led government.

In September 2008, its Baghdad bureau chief, Jawad Hattab, escaped unharmed after spotting a bomb, which would-be assassins had attached to his car, before it was detonated by remote control.

In October 2006, a car bomb targeting the channel`s then bureau killed seven people and wounded 20.

And in February 2006, Al-Arabiya presenter Atwar Bahjat and two of her colleagues were kidnapped and murdered in the mainly Sunni town of Samarra north of Baghdad as they covered the bombing of a revered Shiite shrine, an attack claimed by Al-Qaeda that plunged the country into sectarian bloodshed.

The channel`s ownership by Saudi and other Gulf investors has also made it the focus of suspicions by Iraq`s Shiite-led government that its news agenda reflects the concerns of their Sunni governments.

In September 2006, the channel was banned from reporting out of Iraq for a month after officials took issue with its coverage of the passage through parliament of a bill strongly opposed by Sunni Arabs granting all of Iraq`s provinces the right to seek regional autonomy.

The month-long ban prompted condemnation from international press watchdogs and an expression of concern from Washington.

BDST: 12:56 HRS, July 26, 2010

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