By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
April 13, 2007 – Yesterday's terrorist attack on the Iraqi parliament that killed one member of Parliament and wounded 22 other people has only strengthened the resolve of the government of Iraq and its Council of Representatives, a top U.S. commander in Iraq said Army Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno today. Odierno, the commander of Multinational Corps Iraq, said the attack on parliament and a suicide car bomb on the Sarafiya bridge earlier in the day show the nature of the insurgents.
"The terrorist bombs do not differentiate between children and adults, women and men, Sunnis and Shiia, Arabs and Kurds," he said in a teleconference with Pentagon reporters. "Those killed and wounded are guilty of nothing other than being Iraqi."
Terrorists would rather wreak havoc and destruction than contribute to building the new Iraq, he said. Blowing up a bridge that contributed to the well-being of thousands or killing a representative of the people is better in their eyes than building a modern state or developing the institutions of government.
"But at the end of day, for us to be successful here, it is the Iraqi people who must impose their will," he said.
Troops of the Iraqi Interior Ministry have taken over security duties at the parliament. Iraqi officials are investigating how a suicide bomber gained entrance to one of the most secure buildings in the country, Odierno said. The Council of Representatives held a special session earlier today to express their outrage over the attack.
The general said that no one knows for sure who launched the attack in Baghdad's heavily fortified International Zone. "We've ... seen the reports that al Qaeda in Iraq have in fact claimed it," he said. "My guess is, based on past events, they were probably somewhat involved, but we don't know for sure yet."
He said al Qaeda in Iraq is trying to undermine the feeling of security Iraqis are developing as a result of the Baghdad security plan.
"It's not about one or two single events, it's about an overall feeling of security you get in your neighborhood," he said. "And we're tackling this neighborhood by neighborhood.
"It's allowing the people to understand that they feel protected inside their neighborhood first, the fact that their kids can go to school, they can go to the hospital, they can go down to the markets," he continued. "That's what we're working on. We're still not there yet even in those areas. In some areas we are in Baghdad, they do feel comfortable. There's other areas they don't yet. And that's a day-to-day operation."
Al Qaeda wants to undermine security, Odierno said.
"They want to try to incite chaos," he said. "What we have to do is every single day work hard with Iraqi security forces to provide the sense of security neighborhood by neighborhood, and that's what we're trying to do."
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