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U.N. attack branded 'ruthless'

Smoke rises from the Canal Hotel after Tuesday's blast in Baghdad.
Smoke rises from the Canal Hotel after Tuesday's blast in Baghdad.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- The U.N. Security Council has criticized the "horrible" bomb attack on its headquarters in Baghdad while coalition forces have reaffirmed their determination to stay and help rebuild the country.

At least 17 people were killed when a truck laden with explosives drove into the Canal Hotel including the U.N.'s envoy to Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello who died after being trapped in the rubble for a number of hours, a U.N. spokesman said.

Members of the United Nations Security Council condemned "the terrorist criminal attack" and vowed to further intensify its efforts to help the people of Iraq.

"The United Nations is in Iraq on a mission of peace, and for the reconstruction of the country and to support the Iraqi people. Therefore it is all the more shocking that this attack occurred," Fayssal Mekdad, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Syria, which holds to Council's rotating presidency for August, said in a statement.

"Such terrorist incidents cannot break the will of the international community to further intensify its efforts to help the people of Iraq.

"Members of the Council reaffirmed that this horrible attack that aimed at undermining the vital role of the United Nations in Iraq will not affect their determination and members of the Council will stay united against such attacks and to help the Iraqi people restore peace and stability to their country."

U.S. President George W. Bush said the "terrorists...again showed their contempt for the innocent." (Full Story)

He called them "enemies of the civilized world" who showed their "fear of progress."

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw called the attackers "ruthless people," but vowed the UK would continue in its commitment to the Iraqi people.

"It is a serious matter, but it is not going to set back either the resolve of the coalition nor as the Security Council has already made clear, the resolve of the UN," he said.

He added: "This is a warning, if anyone needed it, of the ruthlessness that some terrorist organizations -- whoever they may be -- use against targets, not only military targets, but entirely innocent civilian targets as well," he said.

"These are plainly very, very ruthless people," he said, and called the attack "outrageous, unjustified."

Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Wednesday the bombing demonstrated "that there are some people on earth who are so wicked and so evil that nothing can be done but to confront them."

The Russian foreign ministry said the attack showed the importance of the international community in trying to bring about peace in Iraq.

The attack, the ministry said in a written statement, "strengthens the necessity for the broad and united participation of the international community in moving forward with settling the issue of Iraq in accordance with U.N. Security Council resolutions."

It added: "The fact that the target of the terrorists are personnel of the United Nations, all of whose efforts are directed toward helping the Iraqi people overcome the effects of military conflicts and create a normal life can only elicit indignation."

French President Jacques Chirac said the bombing was "odious."

"It's the whole international community that has been struck," he added, calling the U.N.'s work in Iraq "exemplary and essential."

New Zealand's Prime Minister Helen Clark described the bombing as "a terrible tragedy."

"I would like to express New Zealand's very deep sorrow at the killings," she said in a statement Wednesday.

"In particular, I would like to pay tribute to Mr. de Mello. He was one of the finest international civil servants," Clark said.

East Timor's Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta said the only real tribute to Vieira de Mello's death would be the continued support of the Iraqi people by the international community.

"I just hope that the U.N. family as a whole will come out of this stronger and united in the fight against international terrorism, in continuing to support the Iraqi people in building democracy and peace in Iraq," he said.

Vieira de Mello was the U.N. administrator who oversaw the transition of East Timor to nationhood last year.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan will cut short his vacation in Helsinki and return to U.N. headquarters in New York on Wednesday.

He said in a statement issued in New York: "Nothing can excuse this act of unprovoked and murderous violence against men and women who went to Iraq for one purpose only: to help the Iraqi people recover their independence and sovereignty, and to rebuild their country as fast as possible, under leaders of their own choosing."

Paul Bremer, the coalition administrator, said in a written statement: "I am deeply distressed to have heard of casualties at the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad. Early reports suggest a terrorist attack.

"Terrorists are enemies of Iraq, as of all civilized countries," he added. "I know that the world will join me in condemning the murderers who target Iraqis and those of us who work with them."

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