The Canal Hotel Bombing in Baghdad, Iraq, in the afternoon of August 19, 2003, killed at least 24 people and wounded over 100. The explosion damaged a spinal cord treatment center hospital nearby and the shockwave was felt a mile away. The United Nations had been using the building as its Baghdad headquarters since 1991.

Table of contents
1 The bombing
2 Eyewitness accounts
3 List of victims (incomplete)
4 Suspects
5 Responses
6 See Also
7 External link

The bombing

The explosion occurred while Benon Sevan, director of the "Oil for food" program, was holding a press conference. Sevan was among the wounded.

There is speculation that Vieira de Mello may have been specifically targeted in the blast due to the proximity of the truck to his office. The UN building may have been chosen due to its limited security. Although the UN is generally thought of as a neutral organization, it was not popular in Iraq due to its role in administration of the sanctions against Iraq in force since the end of the First Gulf War, which, according to UNICEF figures, were directly responsible for the deaths of half a million Iraqi children and a huge rise in the mortality rate. The recent Security Council decision to retrospectively sanction the US occupation, a direct breach of the UN charter, has only added to the anger felt by many Iraqis towards the organization.

It was most likely caused by a suicide bomber driving a truck full of explosives. The vehicle has been identified as a 2002 large flatbed Kamaz (manufactured in Eastern Europe; part of the former Iraqi establishment's fleet). Investigators in Iraq suspect it was from old munitions, including a single 500-pound bomb. The materials may have been from Iraq's prewar arsenal. Investigators comment that such items would not require any "great degree of sophistication" to assemble.

Eyewitness accounts

List of victims (incomplete)

  • SÚrgio Vieira de Mello, 55 (Brazil): UN Secretary-general's special Iraqi envoy.
  • Renam Al-Farra, (Jordan): an employee of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
  • Alyawi Bassem, Iraq: employed by UN Office for the Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq.
  • Ranillo Buenaventura, 47 (Philippines): UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
  • Gillian Clark, 47 (Canada): Christian Children's Fund
  • Arthur Helton, 54 (United States): director of peace and conflict studies at the US Council on Foreign Relations.
  • Richard Hooper, 40 (United States): UN Department of Political Affairs.
  • Reza Hosseini, (Iran): employed by UN Office for the Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq
  • Ihsan Taha Husein, Iraqi: UN office for project services
  • Jean-Selim Kanaan, 33 (Egypt): Member of Vieira de Mello's staff.
  • Chris Klein-Beekman, 32 (Canada): UN Children's Fund's program coordinator.
  • Manuel Martin Oar, 56 (Spain): naval captain, assistant to the Spanish special ambassador to Iraq
  • Alya Souza (Iraq): worked for the World Bank
  • Martha Teas, (United States): manager of UN humanitarian coordination office
  • Fiona Watson, 35 (Britain): Member of Vieira de Mello's staff
  • Nadia Younes, 57 (Egypt): Chief of Staff for Vieira de Mello

(Marilyn Manuel, 53 (Philippines), a member of Vieira de Mello's staff originally listed as dead, stunned her family when she called home, not knowing they had been told she was dead. They had been busy arranging her funeral.)

Suspects

Proposed suspects responsible: An otherwise unknown group called the Armed Vanguards of the Second Mohammed Army has claimed they were responsible for the attack [1].

Investigators are focusing on the possibility that former Iraqi intelligence agents (working as security guards) may have assisted the attack.

Responses

The suicide bombing of the United Nations in Baghdad drew overwhelming condemnation.

Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General, commented that the bombing would not stop the organization's efforts to rebuild Iraq, and said: "Nothing can excuse this act of unprovoked and murderous violence against men and women who went to Iraq for one purpose only: to help the Iraqi people recover their independence and sovereignty, and to rebuild their country as fast as possible, under leaders of their own choosing."

Internationally, there are two main views on the attack, though there are other minority views.

See Also

External link