The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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US suspects group linked to al Qaida

Washington, Aug. 19 (Reuters): The militant group Ansar al-Islam is considered a possible suspect in today’s bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad, a senior defence official said.

He added that US officials are examining any connection to the August 7 bombing of the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the US was investigating who was responsible for the blast that devastated the building housing UN offices in the Iraqi capital. “We don’t know who did it,” the official said. But the official said Ansar al-Islam, described by the US state department as a “terrorist group” with “close links to and support from” the al Qaida network, was considered among the possible perpetrators, saying the group “definitely has not been ruled out.”

Pentagon officials earlier identified Ansar al-Islam as a possible suspect in the truck bombing of the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad that killed at least 17 people, saying the group was known to be operating inside Iraq and in the Baghdad area. Speaking of these two attacks, the official said: “Whether they are connected in any way, we don’t know.”

The official said US forces sent a “quick reaction force” of troops to the scene to provide security at the site and help remove the injured from the rubble and get them to medical facilities. The official said there were differing accounts of the vehicle carrying the bomb, saying it may have been either a car or a truck — possibly a cement truck or trash truck.

The official also said the Pentagon was concerned about the possibility that recent attacks in Iraq constituted a trend toward “terrorist type of activity” in addition to the regular guerrilla-style attacks mounted against US troops. “This is very, very clearly an attack on the future of Iraq. The UN is nobody’s enemy,” the official said.

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