UN Headquarters Bombed in Baghdad

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:13pm EDT

(CNSNews.com) - The United Nations' special envoy to Iraq was among the scores of people injured Tuesday in a suicide bombing at a Baghdad hotel, which served as headquarters for the U.N. team in Iraq.

The death toll is expected to climb as the day goes on.

The United Nations condemned the attack and said it will not deter its "mission of peace" in that country.

The Canal Hotel, which served as U.N. office space, is described as a scene of "immense devastation." The attackers, whoever they are, used a truck bomb to partially collapse the building.

Witnesses said a suicide bomber drove a cement mixer through a fence, into the building's lobby. A nearby hospital was damaged, and the force of the explosion reportedly shattered windows up to a mile away.

When the explosion happened, a Japanese news crew was filming a press conference inside the U.N.'s Baghdad building. Although the video dropped out, the camera kept rolling, capturing the shrieks and other frantic sounds of the bombing's aftermath.

By midday Tuesday, cable news channels in the U.S. were airing that Japanese footage.

According to cable news reports from Baghdad, as many as 150 people -- maybe more -- are believed to have been inside the hotel when the bomb went off Tuesday afternoon, local time.

The United Nations headquarters in New York said the office of U.N. Special Envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello was destroyed and de Mello was injured. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan named Vieira de Mello as his special representative to Iraq in May.

The United States was not responsible for security around the U.N. compound, press reports said.

President Bush broke off a golf game in Waco, Tex., to return to his ranch for an update on the attack. He spoke to reporters briefly Tuesday morning, but that was before anyone knew what had just happened in Baghdad.

In a second statement around 11 a.m. EDT, members of the United Nations Security Council expressed their sincere condolences to the bereaved families and victims at the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad.

"The United Nations mission in Iraq has been established by the Security Council to help the Iraqi people to achieve their objectives," a U.N. spokesman said.

"The United Nations in Iraq is on a mission of peace and for the reconstruction of the country and to support the Iraqi people. Therefore, it is all the more shocking that this attack occurred."

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