Poland's Iraq envoy wounded, bodyguard killedBy Yasser Faisal and Mussab Al-Khairalla
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Poland's ambassador to Iraq was lightly wounded in a triple bomb attack on his diplomatic convoy in central Baghdad on Wednesday which killed a Polish bodyguard and an Iraqi passer-by, officials said.
"It was an assassination attempt. Our three cars drove onto mines," a Polish foreign ministry spokesman said in Warsaw.
Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said after the attack that Poland would not withdraw its 1,000 troops from Iraq.
"Desertion is always the worst option," Kaczynski told reporters. "This is a difficult situation, but those who became engaged and were there for years and then withdraw are making the worst possible mistake."
Iraqi police initially said one passer-by was killed in the blasts and five people were wounded, including three embassy officials. A Polish Interior Ministry spokesman later said a Polish bodyguard died in hospital.
Pietrzyk is the former head of Poland's defence forces, which joined the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Poland has remained a staunch ally of Washington, but a majority of Poles believe the troops should be withdrawn and the attack could make Iraq an issue in elections due on October 21.
The explosions took place on a busy road in the Arasat district of central Baghdad.
Reuters Television pictures showed a European looking man with his head, leg and hands bandaged being evacuated in a helicopter which landed in the street.
Iraqi soldiers said the man, who was surrounded by security guards and troops, was the Polish ambassador. They said other wounded people had been taken by vehicle to the heavily fortified Green Zone for treatment.
Three cars appeared to have been hit in the attack. Two of them were completely burnt out and the third, a sports utility vehicle with shaded windows, carried what appeared to be a red and white Polish flag, a witness said.
The street had been blocked off by Iraqi security forces.
Several diplomats have been killed by suspected al Qaeda militants in Baghdad since the invasion four years ago.
In August 2003 a truck bomb outside United Nations headquarters in the Iraqi capital killed 22 people including U.N. envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello. Since then diplomats from Russia, Japan, Iran and Egypt have also been killed.
Iraqi security forces, backed by thousands of extra U.S. troops, have imposed a security crackdown across the Iraqi capital in recent months in an effort to curb sectarian fighting and militant attacks.
Both Baghdad and Washington say the campaign has led to a clear reduction in violence.
Government data released this week showed that 884 Iraqi civilians died in violence across the country last month, a 50 percent fall from August's death toll.
But a group led by Sunni Islamist al Qaeda fighters pledged last month to step up the violence during Ramadan, and the U.S. military has reported an increase in insurgent attacks since the start of the Muslim holy month nearly three weeks ago.
Poland's former defence minister Radek Sikorski, responding to Wednesday's attack, said Poland should not withdraw its troops from Iraq "under such pressure" from militants.
Poland's ruling conservatives, facing an election on Oct. 21, support extending the Iraq mission beyond the end of the year. But some opposition parties want an end to the mission and could step up the pressure after Wednesday's attack on Pietrzyk.
(Additional reporting by Adam Jasser, Chris Borowski and Dagmara Leszkowicz in Warsaw)
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