Polish ambassador wounded in Baghdad bombing

By —— Bio and Archives--October 3, 2007

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Poland’s ambassador to Iraq was wounded in a triple-bomb attack in central Baghdad on Wednesday which also killed a civilian and wounded three others, Iraqi and Polish officials said.

Iraqi defence ministry officials confirmed that three roadside bombs targeted ambassador Edward Pietrzyk’s convoy as it drove through Al-Arasat neighbourhood in the centre of the Iraqi capital.

“The ambassador was injured, but was able to leave the scene himself,” Polish foreign ministry spokesman Robert Szaniawski told AFP in Warsaw.

“Three cars in the Polish convoy were destroyed in the attack,” which occured around 0700 GMT,” Szaniawski said, adding that at least one of the ambassador’s bodyguards was injured.

Witnesses said that after the attack a helicopter of private US security firm Blackwater landed near the scene and loaded up some of the wounded before taking off again. It was not clear if the ambassador was among them.

Poland has become on the most loyal allies of the United States since the collapse of its communist regime in 1989, and joined NATO in 1999.

Warsaw was a solid supporter of Washington’s moves against executed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, earning it the ire of anti-war governments in Europe, notably France.

Poland supplied troops to the US-led coalition which invaded Iraq in March 2003, and has kept them deployed there ever since.

About 900 Polish troops are currently stationed around 200 kilometres (120) miles southwest of Baghdad.

A total of 21 Polish soldiers have been killed in Iraq since the conflict began.

Pietrzyk, 57, was a long-serving soldier before being appointed head of Warsaw’s diplomatic mission in Iraq earlier this year. He was commander-in-chief of Poland’s land forces from 2000-2006.

He began his army career in communist-era Poland, and studied at the Soviet Union’s artillery academy and its chief-of-staff academy.

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