At least seven people were killed in a suicide car bomb attack outside Iraq's interior ministry Monday. At least 34 others were injured, officials told Reuters.
The bomber attempted to drive his car into the ministry building complex in central Baghdad at the beginning of rush hour, according to the New York Times. He then detonated an explosion that left casualties on the ground and set fire to nearby vehicles.
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Five police officers were among the dead. A police source told Reuters that the interior ministry is believed to have been targeted for its role in the issue of an arrest warrant of Vice-President Tariq al-Hashimi last week.
The ministry accuses Hashimi of ordering the assassination of his political rivals, and broadcast video footage of the supposed confessions of members of his alleged hit squad.
Hashimi denies the charges, which he says are politically motivated. He is currently in Irbil, in Iraq's Kurdistan province, where the national police have little authority to arrest him.
The vice-president's political bloc, Iraqiya, is boycotting parliament and cabinet meetings in protest. Predominantly Sunni, it accuses Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of refusing to share power.
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The crisis, which broke out just days after the withdrawal of US troops, has prompted fears of a return to sectarian violence in Iraq. On Thursday, more than 60 people were killed in a series of explosions across Baghdad, the deadliest attacks the capital has seen in months.
The NY Times said:
No group claimed responsibility for that attack or the one on Monday, but they were similar to others conducted by al-Qaeda in Iraq, the insurgent group accused of trying to plunge the country back into a sectarian conflict by pitting Sunnis and Shiites against one another.
US Vice-President Joe Biden called Iraqi leaders Sunday to urge them to resolve the crisis, according to the BBC.