BAGHDAD (AP) – Ex-Iraqi deputy prime minister and former Pentagon favorite, Ahmad Chalabi, escaped a suicide car bomb attack on his convoy in Baghdad, an official in his office said Saturday.
Chalabi was not wounded, but the explosion Friday night in the western Baghdad neighborhood of Mansour killed six of his bodyguards, said the official, Ayad Kadhim Sabti.
Police said more than a dozen other people were wounded in the blast.
Chalabi, a secular Shiite who was once viewed by Washington as a possible successor to Saddam Hussein, was on his way to his headquarters in the area when the bomb exploded, his office said.
After spending most of his life abroad, Chalabi returned to Iraq in 2003 and served in the 25-member Governing Council appointed by the American occupation authorities to run the country’s day-to-day affairs. He was a member of the next two Cabinets, serving as finance minister and then as deputy prime minister but failed to win a seat in parliament in the 2005 election. He now is chairman of a commission responsible for keeping Saddam loyalists out of government posts, his office said, and is believed to have escaped several assassination attempts since 2003.
Meanwhile, at least six people were killed and about 50 were injured Saturday, including 19 in critical condition, when a suicide bomber attacked a market in Tal Afar, police and medical officials said.
The small but strategic northwestern Iraqi city has been a frequent target of suicide bombers over the past five years.
Last month, officials said 25 people were killed when a car bomb exploded in a crowded market in Tal Afar, which is located about 260 miles (420 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad. U.S. officials blamed the Aug. 8 attack on al-Qaeda in Iraq.