Wednesday, September 01, 2004
In an apparent assassination attempt, a team of gunmen attacked a convoy transporting Ahmed Chalabi to Baghdad, where he is wanted on counterfeiting charges:
The attack came when Dr Chalabi was travelling to the inaugural meeting of the country's new 100-member interim national council, which was sworn in yesterday despite a series of mortar attacks on the heavily fortified "Green Zone" within which the ceremony was taking place.UPDATE (via Laura Rozen): Reuters reports that the counterfeiting charges against Chalabi have been dropped.
The gunmen, who came under return fire from Dr Chalabi's bodyguards, laid their ambush at Latifiya, in the southern outskirts of Baghdad on a notoriously dangerous stretch of Highway 8 between the capital and Najaf. One theory is that the two missing French hostages may have been kidnapped on the same section of road while travelling to Najaf.
Dr Chalabi, who had been returning from the holy city after a meeting with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said after the ambush yesterday: "There are many terror bands there and we must work very hard very quickly to free this area from the scourge of the terrorists."
"One of our cars was left behind. We found it burnt and the bodies of two guards burnt inside it," Chalabi said.
"It was an ambush. I don't think there is anything further to say. These things are part of the job," he told reporters.