Suicide bombers killed 20 people when they blasted through the concrete walls surrounding the Palestine Hotel in central Baghdad.Iraqi National Security Adviser Mouwafak al-Rubaie confirmed that 20 people were killed in the attack, although the US military said six civilians were killed and 15 wounded.
The country's deputy interior minister said four or five Iraqi police were among those who died in the three bombings.
Al-Rubaie said at least 40 people were injured, including five inside the hotel who suffered minor wounds.
The hotel is a base for many foreign journalists.
Al-Rubaie, said the attack, which appeared well planned, was a "very clear" effort to take over the hotel and grab foreign and Arab journalists as hostages.
"The plan was very clear to us, which was to take security control over the two hotels, and to take the foreign and Arab journalists as hostages to use them as a bargain," he said. He offered no evidence to support the claim, other than to say the suicide bombers had been armed with rocket-propelled grenades and light arms.
Maj. Gen. Hussein Kamal, the deputy interior minister, disputed that theory.
"There is no evidence to support this. This is just an unlikely assumption. If that were the case, then there would have been gunmen with the suicide bombers. There were no gunmen," he said.
A US Bradley Fighting Vehicle parked inside the hotel compound was destroyed in the blast. No-one was inside at the time. But a US soldier inside the compound did fire on the third suicide attacker, the driver of an explosives-laden cement truck, reports Scotsman. I.L.
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