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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

6 Killed in Bombing at Iraqi Ministry

BAGHDAD -- Iraq's Shiite vice president and a Cabinet minister were wounded in an assassination attempt Monday, when a bomb killed six people in Baghdad at an official ceremony.

Police sources said Iraqi Public Works Minister Riad Ghareeb, also a Shiite, had been seriously wounded in the blast at a hall of the ministry. Aides to Vice President Adel Abdul-Mahdi said he suffered minor shrapnel wounds.

The attack was the latest in a series defying a security crackdown in Baghdad that is seen as a final attempt to halt all-out civil war in Iraq.

Aides to the vice president, a member of the Shiite majority that dominates the U.S.-backed government, said he was later discharged from a U.S. military hospital in the Green Zone, a vast government compound that also houses the U.S. Embassy, and that he had returned to his office.

Police, however, said he was still in the hospital.

"[Abdul-Mahdi] has light shrapnel wounds in different parts of his body but it is not serious," a political source from the ruling Shiite Alliance said.

The cause of the blast was under investigation. Militants are increasingly using suicide vests in attacks because of tighter checks on roads aimed at reducing car bombs.

One witness said the force of the blast threw Abdul-Mahdi against a wall at the ministry, located in the Sunni Arab neighborhood of Mansour in western Baghdad.

"When the blast occurred, Abdul-Mahdi was thrown against the wall. All his guards threw themselves on top of him," the witness said.

Ghareeb's deputy was also taken to the hospital. Several senior ministry officials were among those killed, police said. The bomb wounded 31 people.

Iraq's leaders are often targeted by militants engaged in Shiite-Sunni sectarian fighting.

Around 100,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops have been deployed in Baghdad, the epicenter of Iraq's violence, to carry out a nearly two-week security plan.

Despite the push, daily violence has continued, pressuring Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to crack down on both Sunni Arab insurgents and Shiite militias.

A female suicide bomber killed 40 people in a college in Baghdad on Sunday, and a truck bomb near a Sunni mosque in western Anbar province killed 52 on Saturday. The second attack was blamed on al-Qaida militants striking back at local Sunni tribes opposed to the Islamist group.

Renewing accusations that Iranian-made weapons are being used by Iraqi militants, the U.S. military showed on Monday what it said was a large cache of Iranian bombs found in a raid north of Baghdad on Saturday.