Thursday, March 22, 2007

UN Secretary-General escapes Iraq blast unharmed

1:13:50 PM

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was unharmed, but ducked behind the podium after a rocket or mortar landed near Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s office today while the two men were speaking to reporters at a Baghdad news conference.

Small chips of debris floated down from the ceiling above the UN chief after the big explosion rattled the building in the Green Zone.

Reporters ran outside and saw a crater one-metre in diameter about 50 metres from the building where the news conference was in progress. Two cars were damaged.

Al-Maliki security officials said it was a rocket attack.

The UN chief looked frightened, casting his eyes right and left as he rose after ducking below the podium where he was standing and answering questions.

Al-Maliki said “nothing’s wrong” as one of his security men started to grab the prime minister.

Within minutes the two men resumed their news conference. They ended the question and answer session minutes later.

The sound of the weapon being fired – which sounded like a rocket launch - could be heard not far from the Associated Press office, which is across the Tigris River to the east of the Green Zone, which also houses the US Embassy and Iraqi government offices.

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