BAGHDAD (Reuters) – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was left shaken but unhurt on Thursday on his first visit to Baghdad after a Katyusha rocket landed just meters from a building where he was giving a news conference.
Moments after telling journalists he might boost the United Nations’ presence in Iraq because of improved security, a thunderous blast sent shockwaves through the conference venue, startling Ban and sending him ducking for cover behind a podium.
Security guards grabbed hold of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki who was standing next to Ban at the time and was dusted by small bits of debris that fell from the ceiling.
Without commenting on the explosion, which sent a large column of smoke into the air, Ban recovered his composure and took one further question before leaving the conference room.
Interior Minister Jawad Bolani played down the incident afterwards, telling Reuters: “This was not a security breach. Things like this happen in Baghdad once or twice a week.”
A Reuters reporter at the scene said the rocket landed on a small building about 50 meters from the news conference venue, a guesthouse in the prime minister’s compound. The Interior Ministry said it landed in a field outside the compound.
Earlier, Ban praised Maliki’s “strong leadership” and said: “As we see the improved situation on the ground, I am considering to increase the presence of the United Nations.”
Well, this was on my Yahoo browswer, which at this point, is the only way to get to my e-mail. (Here is the link, I hope.)
Sorry about the schadenfreude, but it has annoyed me from the beginning that the UN would chose such a blatant US stooge to be Secretary General, and it is just too funny to watch him take a near miss while spouting Bush’s talking points.
No worry: They will get him out of there safely. 😉