Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Leaders Mourn Death of UN Envoy, Condemn Bombing

The bomb attack on the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad Tuesday, which killed the top UN envoy in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and at least 16 others, stunned the world. A number of countries strongly condemned the bombing and mourned the death of UN officials.


The bomb attack on the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad Tuesday, which killed the top UN envoy in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and at least 16 others, stunned the world. A number of countries strongly condemned the bombing and mourned the death of UN officials.

The UN Security Council condemned the bombing as a "terrorist, criminal attack", while Secretary-General Kofi Annan cut short his vacation in Finland and called for the "perpetrators of this outrage" to be brought to justice.

In a statement, UN chief Annan described Vieira de Mello's death as "a bitter blow for the United Nations and for him personally." He said "the death of any colleague is hard to bear but I could think of no one we could less spare."

A cement truck packed with explosives crashed into the UN headquarters in Baghdad on Tuesday, killing at least 17 people including the top UN envoy, and injuring more than 100 others.

The explosion at the Canal Hotel, which housed the UN headquarters in Iraq, occurred at 4:40 p.m. (1240 GMT), blowing down a northern wing of the building and shaking a nearby hospital.

Vieira de Mello, 55, had already served with honor in Kosovo, East Timor and other hot spots around the world, handling difficult missions for the world body, before he was temporarily moved from his post as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to become the UN secretary-general's special representative in Iraq, in June.

The bombing of the UN mission in Iraq has drawn fierce reactions around the world.

In Brazil, Vieira de Mello's home country, a three-day national mourning was declared Tuesday for his death.

The Brazilian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the country "rejects any form of terrorism and in particular those aimed at organizations working for the promotion of peace."

Russia on Tuesday condemned the devastating bomb attack in Baghdad as a "barbaric act."

"This barbaric act, which can have no justification, is designed to undermine the process of postwar stabilization on Iraq," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The statement added that Russia was "shocked" at the attack, noting that "this tragedy once again makes obvious the need for more extensive and concerted international participation in efforts to settle the situation in Iraq in conformity with existing decisions by the UN Security Council."

United States President George W. Bush vowed Tuesday that Washington will continue its fight against terror through every hardship, despite the bombing of United Nations headquarters in Iraq.

"All nations of the world face a challenge and a choice. By attempting to spread chaos and fear, terrorists are testing our will," Bush said in a statement in Crawford, Texas, where he is spending a holiday.

"Across the world they are finding that our will cannot be shaken. We will persevere through every hardship, we will continue this war on terror until the killers are brought to justice, and we will prevail," said the US president.

The European Union (EU) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) strongly condemned the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad.

The EU's security chief, Javier Solana, said in a statement that he was "deeply shocked by this attack." He called it "a despicable act" because it was an attack against people working for Iraq's future and an attack against the international community's determination to reconstruct Iraq.

"The EU strongly supports the UN's important ongoing role in the reconstruction of Iraq," he said.

The Deputy Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Minuto Rizzo, called the attack a "cowardly act" and offered sympathy to the relatives of the victims.

Italy, which is holding the six-month rotating EU presidency, expressed its strong condemnation of Tuesday's attack.

The Italian government also reiterated the EU's full support for the United Nations and stressed its determination to continue working on Iraq's post-war reconstruction.

France and Germany, the two major European countries opposing the US-led war against Iraq, also strongly condemned the truck bomb attack.

"France reaffirms her full support to the UN action engaged in Iraq, which is at the side of the Iraqi people and at the service of peace and reconstruction," said the French Foreign Ministry in a statement.

"France insists on hailing the action and courage of Sergio Vieira de Mello, special UN representative to Iraq, who was hit by this terrible attack," said the statement.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said Tuesday those responsible for the crime must be investigated and relentlessly punished.

The attack was not only one on the United Nations, but on the future of Iraqi people, he added.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Tuesday condemned the bombing as "an attack against Iraq and the whole international community."

"I am appalled by this callous attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad. My thoughts are with the relatives and friends of those who have been killed and injured. I condemn this outrage against the United Nations, its staff and the people of Iraq," Straw said in a statement.

He added that Britain would do whatever it could to help the Coalition Provisional Authority, the Iraqi Governing Council and the Iraqi police bring those responsible for the attack to justice. ????

The Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement harshly condemning the truck explosion against the UN office.

The ministry offered condolences to the relatives of the UN staff who lost their lives in the suicide bombing attack.

In a statement, the Arab League said, "This is a serious, criminal terror act aimed at the UN presence in Iraq."

"The Arab League urges all the Iraqi political forces to unite and prevent such acts, which do not serve the interests of the Iraqi people, from recurring," the 22-member pan-Arab forum said.

The Arab League also praised efforts made by Vieira de Mello to help Iraq restore its sovereignty and end occupation.

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