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Iraq Transition

Official: Iraqi deputy PM attacked by guard's friend

Story Highlights

U.S. condemns attack on Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie
Adviser: Failed assassin was invited to al-Zubaie's compound
Prime minister visits al-Zubaie and reports no serious injuries
• At least nine dead in attack, 15 wounded
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A suicide bomber who wounded Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie and killed nine people Friday was a friend of one of the deputy's bodyguards, a security adviser said.

The bomber was invited to the deputy's compound, where he detonated his explosives just a few meters from the Iraqi leader, the adviser said. Fifteen people were wounded.

Al-Zubaie and others were attacked after they had joined in Friday prayers in a special room, said the security adviser, who declined to provide his name because he's not authorized to speak to the media.

The suicide bomber's vest had been stuffed with ball bearings to produce maximum damage and casualties.

The adviser said an investigation is under way.

Officials said those killed in the attack included a brother or cousin of al-Zubaie's, an adviser and members of the deputy minister's security team.

The powerful blast wracked rooms in the compound and left them strewn with debris. (Watch debris from the blast and a ball bearing from the suicide bomb Video)

Witnesses said the blast was followed minutes later by a second explosion from a car bomb outside the compound. While the injured were being evacuated, al-Zubaie's security guards fired shots in the air to clear the area, witnesses said.

Al-Zubaie, a Sunni Muslim, is one of Iraq's two deputy prime ministers and was treated at the 28th Combat Support Hospital in Baghdad's U.S.-protected Green Zone. (Interactive: More on al-Zubaie's background)

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki visited al-Zubaie at the hospital, where doctors told him the deputy prime minister was in stable condition and would not have to be transferred outside Iraq for further treatment, according to a written statement from al-Maliki's office.

The statement called the bombing a "criminal incident."

Gen. Qassim Atta, spokesman for the Iraqi-U.S. security plan for the capital, said the deputy prime minister required surgery.

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad condemned the attack. "My heartfelt condolences go out to the families who have lost loved ones in this vicious attack and to all the Iraqi people who suffer at the merciless hands of these criminals," Khalilzad said in a written statement.

The attack comes a day after mortar fire rattled Baghdad's Green Zone and rocked a room where U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and al-Maliki were holding a televised news conference. (Read more about the attack and the U.N. leader)

The explosion startled Ban, who ducked slightly behind the podium. He regained his composure and the men continued the press briefing, which ended minutes later.

Five dead in other attacks

Elsewhere, deadly attacks Friday targeting Iraqi army officials, bus passengers and a procession of Shiites left five dead, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.

One person was killed when gunmen sprayed bullets at a crowd outside a bus station in Baghdad's southeastern Jadida district. Three people were wounded.

Hours later, gunmen opened fire on a procession of Shiite Muslims in southern Baghdad's Dora district, killing one and wounding three others.

Armed attackers shot and killed an Iraqi army official as he stood outside his house in the Shiite city of Diwaniya, about 112 miles (180 kilometers) south of Baghdad.

North of Baghdad, gunmen killed a former Iraqi army officer as he drove his car in Mosul.

In western Baghdad, a car bomb explosion killed an Iraqi soldier and wounded another at an army checkpoint in the Yarmouk district.

Iraqi police found 25 bodies throughout Baghdad.

Other developments

  • A U.S. Marine assigned to Multi-National Force-West was killed Thursday in combat in Anbar province, the military said Friday. The Marine's name was not released. The death brought the number of U.S. troops killed in the Iraq war to 3,226. Seven American military contractors also have been killed in the war.
  • In Washington, the House passed a spending bill Friday that includes a deadline -- August 31, 2008 -- for combat troops to leave Iraq. The measure is unlikely to pass the Senate, and President Bush has said he would veto the bill if it contains such a provision. (Read more about House efforts to bring troops home)
  • U.S. and Iraqi forces uncovered a half dozen weapons caches and freed a hostage Friday morning during Baghdad security sweeps, a U.S. military statement said. Operation Arrowhead Strike 9 comprises about 1,100 U.S. troops and 500 Iraqi soldiers and police in the southern Ghazaliya and Ameriya neighborhoods. In one of the searched houses, soldiers rescued a man who was being held hostage and had been shot three times in the leg. He was evacuated to a medical facility, the military said.
  • CNN's Mohammed Tawfeeq, Jennifer Deaton and Basim Mahdi contributed to this report.

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