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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Iraq Parliament Cafeteria Bombed

BAGHDAD -- A bomb rocked Iraq's parliament building in the heavily fortified Green Zone on Thursday, killing at least two lawmakers in a stunning security breach in the third month of a U.S.-Iraqi crackdown on violence in the capital, officials said.

Iraqi state television said at least 10 other people were wounded in the blast, which shook a cafeteria while several lawmakers were eating lunch.

Mohammed Awad, a member of the Sunni National Dialogue Front, was killed in the blast, said Saleh al-Mutlaq, the leader of the party, which holds 11 seats in Iraq's legislature. A female Sunni lawmaker from the same list was wounded, he said.

A security official at the parliament building said a second lawmaker, a Shiite, also was killed. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Apparently concerned that an attack might take place, security officials at the parliament were using sniffer dogs earlier Thursday as people entered the building -- a rare precaution.

The U.S. military reported on April 1 that two suicide vests were found in the Green Zone in central Baghdad, which also houses the U.S. Embassy and offices of the Iraqi government. A militant rocket attack last month killed two Americans, a soldier and a contractor. A few days earlier, a rocket landed within 100 meters of a building where UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was holding a news conference. No one was killed or wounded.

Khalaf al-Ilyan, one of the three leaders of the Iraqi Accordance Front, which holds 44 seats in the parliament, said the attack was "aimed at everyone -- all parties -- our parliament in general being a symbol and a representative of all segments of Iraqi society."

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad said no Americans were injured in the blast.

Thursday's bombing came hours after a suicide truck bomb exploded on a major bridge in Baghdad, collapsing the steel structure and sending cars tumbling into the Tigris River, police and witnesses said. At least 10 people were killed.

Hospital officials said another 26 were injured, and police were trying to rescue as many as 20 people whose cars plummeted off the al-Sarafiya bridge.

Waves lapped against twisted girders as patrol boats searched for survivors and U.S. helicopters whirred overhead. Scuba divers donned flippers and waded in from the riverbanks.

The bridge connected two northern Baghdad neighborhoods -- Waziriyah, a mostly Sunni enclave, and Utafiyah, a Shiite area.

Police blamed the attack on a suicide truck bomber, but television footage showed the bridge broken apart in two places -- perhaps the result of two blasts.

"We were astonished more when we saw the extent of damage," said Ahmed Abdul-Karim, 45, who also lives near the bridge.

Locals said the al-Sarafiya bridge was believed to be at least 75 years old, built by the British in the early 20th century.

"It is one of Baghdad's monuments. This is really damaging for Iraq. We are losing a lot of our history every day," Abdul-Karim said.

n Stretched thin by four years of war, the U.S. Army is adding three months to the standard yearlong tour for all active-duty soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The change, announced Wednesday by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, will affect about 100,000 soldiers currently in Iraq and Afghanistan, plus thousands more who deploy later. It does not affect the U.S. Marine Corps, the National Guard or Army Reserve.