BAGHDAD, Iraq, AP – Gunmen opened fire Monday on a convoy of cars carrying members of an Arab League delegation that is visiting Iraq, but no one was hurt, police said.
The gunmen, traveling in four vehicles, pulled alongside the convoy of the 10-member Arab League delegation on a highway in Baghdad and started shooting, said police Maj. Mousa Abdul-Karem. The convoy was driving toward a western neighborhood of Baghdad for a meeting with the Muslim Scholars Association, an Arab Sunni Muslim group.
The Arab League delegation arrived last weekend to lay the groundwork for an Iraqi "reconciliation conference" it hopes to hold after Saturday”s constitutional referendum. It was the first time the pan-Arab organization has tried to take a direct role in Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
It was not immediately clear who launched the attack, but Sunni-led insurgent groups have killed several hundred Iraqis in the last two weeks with drive-by shootings, suicide car bombs and roadside explosives aimed at wrecking the constitutional referendum.
The Arab League also has gotten a cold reception from some Shiite leaders in Iraq”s government who resent the organization”s perceived inaction in response to Saddam Hussein”s regime and the predominantly Sunni League”s alleged bias in favor of Iraq”s Sunni minority.
On Sunday, government spokesman Laith Kubba urged the group to improve its relations with Iraq by following the example of the United Nations and opening an office in Baghdad. But just before the delegation arrived, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa reportedly issued a warning about the fighting in Iraq.
"The situation is so tense there is a threat looming in the air about civil war that could erupt at any moment, although some people would say that it is already there," Moussa said in an interview with British Broadcasting Corp. radio.