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Islamic militants claim responsibility for suicide attack on network

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Islamic State of Iraq has ties to al Qaeda
  • Suicide attack kills at least six people and wounds 20
  • Vehicle used in the attack cleared security checkpoints before exploding

(CNN) -- Islamic militants with ties to al Qaeda claimed responsibility Thursday for this week's suicide attack on a television station in Iraq that killed at least six people and wounded 20 others.

The Islamic State of Iraq praised the attack as "a blessed operation and one of a series of the blessed prisoner conquests in order to defeat the Safavid (Shiite) project and their stooges in Baghdad," in a statement posted to a terrorist website.

The statement called call upon Muslims in nearby countries to follow the group's lead, saying "targeting such malignant media institutions that are standing against the Mujahideens in the trench of the infidels, the crusaders is one of the greatest acts of worship to God, and a duty of Jihad on every Muslim."

The Islamic State of Iraq is an umbrella group including a number of Sunni extremist groups that has ties to al Qaeda in Iraq.

On Monday, a suicide bomber drove a bus into the compound of Saudi-funded al-Arabiya in central Baghdad.

Authorities are investigating how the bus, belonging to a telecommunications company, made it past security checkpoints, Qassim Atta, spokesman for Baghdad Operations Command, told al-Arabiya this week. At least 10 vehicles and six buildings were damaged, including the al-Arabiya structure, officials said.

The blast also damaged the office of former Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zubaie, close to the television station's building, the ministry said.

Al-Zubaie suffered minor injuries and was taken to a hospital, the ministry said.

In 2007, al-Zubaie was wounded when a suicide bomber targeted his compound in a different neighborhood.

Atta said Iraqi officials obtained information three months ago that the al Qaeda terrorist network planned to attack a number of media offices, including al-Arabiya, that took a clear position against al Qaeda and terrorism.

Since then, Atta said, Iraqi authorities have deployed police patrols near a number of TV channels and other media outlets. Iraqi authorities also gave other media outlets the choice of contracting with private security companies.

U.N. officials, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, condemned the attack on al-Arabiya.

CNN's Saad Abedine contributed to this report.