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Gunmen Attack Baghdad U.N. Building

October 5, 1997

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) _ Gunmen hurled grenades and fired bullets at a U.N. building in Baghdad, Iraq, destroying one vehicle and damaging three others, officials said Sunday. One attacker was injured.

The wounded gunman was taken into custody by the Iraqi army, according to a U.N. statement. The remaining three attackers fled, it said.

The Saturday night assault targeted the World Health Organization’s headquarters, which houses an office for U.N. officials monitoring the oil-for-food program.

No one claimed responsibility. Details of the gunman’s injuries were not known.

According to preliminary reports, the four men also lobbed grenades and opened fire at the WHO building, the U.N. statement said.

Eric Falt, spokesman for the oil-for-food program, told The Associated Press in Dubai the attack took place after office hours and only guards were at the building.

The carport roof was partially burned, Falt said. One four-wheel drive vehicle was destroyed and three others severely damaged, he said.

U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Baghdad, Denis Halliday, condemned the attack, the first ever at a U.N. building in Iraq, the statement said.

``It is the Iraqi government’s responsibility to protect U.N. personnel and property against any harm and Mr. Halliday has asked for an urgent meeting at the highest levels with the Iraqi leaders in order to express his concern,″ said the statement.

Iraq has been under U.N. sanctions banning the sale of oil, its economic mainstay, since its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. But a U.N. program, put in place in December 1996, allows Iraq to sell $1 billion of crude every 90 days to buy needed food and medicine under close U.N. supervision.

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