Iraq's higher education minister escapes unharmed from car bomb attack

Iraq's higher education minister escaped unharmed from a car bomb attack on his convoy in Baghdad early Wednesday but at least three of his bodyguards were lightly wounded, a ministry spokesman said.

The attack on independent Shiite lawmaker Sami al-Mudafar was the second attempt on his life within the past two years. The first happened when he was education minister under the transitional government of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

Higher Education Ministry spokesman Bassel al-Khatib said a car bomb exploded in downtown Baghdad's Karradah district as al-Mudafar's four-vehicle convoy passed. At least two vehicles were damaged.

Al-Khatib had no details if the car bomb was driven by a suicide attacker or was remote control detonated.

Police Maj. Qusai Ibrahim said the minister was unharmed in the attack and his car sped away from the scene.

The motive for the attack was not immediately clear, but al-Mudafar has been reportedly outspoken against increasing the influence of Islam on university campuses. Sunni Arab insurgents have also repeatedly targeted members of the U.S.-backed Iraqi government.

Al-Mudafar is an independent lawmaker in the outgoing parliament and did not run in Dec. 15 elections for the next four-year parliament.

Under Saddam Hussein's regime, al-Mudafar was a biochemistry professor at University of Baghdad college of sciences and was elected head of the university following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, reports the AP.


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