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September 7, 2009

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Iraq wants more UN help over bombings

IRAQ'S prime minister pressed the United Nations envoy yesterday for action on his request for an international tribunal to try suspects in last month's suicide truck bombings at government targets.

The premier, Nouri al-Maliki, also briefed the special envoy on the intensifying dispute with neighboring Syria sparked by the attacks, state TV reported.

Iraq says two wanted members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party who fled to Syria at the start of the war planned and financed the August 19 attacks.

Syria has refused to hand them over, demanding evidence.

The bombings devastated the foreign and finance ministries in Baghdad and killed about 100 people.

The attacks severely shook confidence in al-Maliki's government, which wants to demonstrate it can guarantee security in the country.

Al-Maliki is also hoping to hold onto his job after January's national elections and had touted recent security improvements in his public appearances.

He has faced criticism over the security lapses revealed by the attacks - one suspect said in a televised confession that the bombers got past checkpoints by paying bribes.

Because of the international element to the case, Iraq has asked the UN Security Council to investigate and set up a special court to try suspects.

After the attacks, al-Maliki ordered reinforcements to the Syrian border to shore up defenses against fighters crossing into Iraq.


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