A PHYSICIAN at al-Yarmouk hospital, who would not be named, said al-Hashimi was in critical condition with abdominal wounds.
Three of her body guards also were injured, according to a security guard at the al-Yarmouk facility.
An Iraqi security official said al-Hashimi was brought to the hospital at about 10:30 a.m. and immediately was taken to surgery for a bullet wound in the left side of her abdomen.
She was then taken to an unknown location in a U.S. military ambulance still unconscious, said the official who would not give his name.
Members of al-Hashimi’s security detail said the attack was carried out by men in two new SUVs. They fired rocket-propelled grenades that missed her car, then opened fire with Kalashnikov assault rifles.
While at the al-Yarmouk facility, fellow council member Ahmad Chalabi arrived. He was joined by Health Minister Dr. Khudayer Abbas. Chalabi is council president for September.
Mohammed Abdul Ghany, a security official at al-Yarmouk Hospital, said the search for the attackers was under way.
“We will catch those responsible for this vicious crime,”” he said.
A policeman, also refusing to give his name, said the attack occurred outside al-Hashimi’s home about 9 a.m.
An al-Hashimi neighbor, Khola Ibrahim, said she was in her kitchen when she “heard shooting, very heavy shooting.””
Another neighbor, Saba Adel, said al-Hashimi’s brother ” who acted as one of her bodyguards ” knocked on her door crying out “My sister, my sister.””
Saba Adel said she saw another bodyguard lying on the sidewalk wounded in the arm and leg.
“He looked in terrible condition,”” she said.
DISRUPTING POLITICAL PROCESS
Al-Hashimi was preparing to leave for New York as part of the Iraqi delegation to the U.N. General Assembly next week in an attempt to assume Iraq’s seat in the world body.
The attempt on al-Hashimi’s life Saturday appeared to be well planned and almost certainly the work of Saddam Hussein loyalists seeking to disrupt the U.S.-sponsored political process for Iraq that envisages a new constitution and a democratically elected government before the end of next year.
Besides attacking American troops, insurgents have also targeted Iraqis cooperating with the U.S.-led coalition and members of new, U.S.-backed police forces.
Late last month, a Shiite Muslim leader ” Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim ” was assassinated in a bomb blast in the holy city of Najaf south of Baghdad. The attack, widely thought to be the work of Saddam loyalists, killed at least 85 people.
Al-Hakim’s Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the biggest anti-Saddam opposition group, was represented in the 25-member Governing Council.
The attack on al-Hashimi underlines the risk faced by Iraqis who cooperate with the American-led occupation in high profile positions.
She is a Shiite Muslim and a career diplomat, who led the Iraqi delegation to the New York donor’s conference for Iraq this summer. She holds a doctorate in modern literature and a bachelor’s degree in law.
U.S. SHOW OF FORCE
On Saturday morning, soldiers patrolled through Tikrit and the eastern banks of the Tigris river, site of a deadly attack Thursday by Saddam loyalists. The patrol began late Friday and ended early Saturday. Intended as a show of force, it was also an attempt to flush out pockets of armed resistance in the area.
“We took a tank company and a Bradley company,”” Lt. Col. Steve Russell, the 1st Battalion commander of the 4th Infantry Division’s 22nd Infantry Regiment, told The Associated Press. “We wanted to send a message.””
The U.S. troops usually patrol in smaller vehicles but this operation came after a series of attacks Thursday described by the military as some of the fiercest and best coordinated since American forces arrived in the Tikrit area in April.
Fifty-eight Iraqis were captured after the attacks and U.S. troops seized a considerable number of weapons from a minivan fleeing the area, the military said.
During the patrol, tanks swept through residential areas, occasionally dismounting to set up security points, to check cars and people leaving Tikrit after the city’s 11 p.m. curfew.
The patrol ended without incident.
“We wanted to make contact with the enemy,”” Russell said. “If they want, we’ll surely oblige him.””
BOOBY TRAP IN BAGHDAD
Meantime, the explosion Friday night in Baghdad kicked up a large cloud of smoke and dust near Martyrs’ Square, where the U.S. military maintains a base. Piles of shrapnel lay about the scene, and a taxi was badly damaged.
There was a large crater from the explosion, which was near the People’s Stadium about a mile northeast of the Palestine Hotel, where much of the huge contingent of international reporters works and lives. It was felt and heard in the NBC News bureau.
NBC News’ Jim Avila reported that the device appeared to be a homemade bomb that exploded prematurely. A taxi, which had been driving past, had its windshield shattered, but the driver said he had not been hurt.
No one was reported injured at the time in the explosion, which occurred about 9 p.m. (1 p.m. ET), only an hour before Baghdad falls under an overnight curfew.
U.S. troops come under near-daily attacks in and around Baghdad and in northern parts of the country, many of them roadside bomb blasts set off by guerrillas in Iraq to attack occupying troops.
TROOPS SHOOT AT SENIOR ADVISER
In a separate incident, an Italian Foreign Ministry official in Rome said U.S. soldiers in northern Iraq fired Thursday into a car carrying the Italian official heading U.S. efforts to recover looted antiquities, killing the man’s Iraqi interpreter. The Italian, Pietro Cordone, was unhurt in the shooting at a roadblock between Mosul and Tikrit, the Foreign Ministry official said.
The Foreign Ministry official, speaking to The AP on condition of anonymity, said it appeared the car’s driver did not understand the signals that the American troops were giving, and that the American’s didn’t understand what the car was trying to do.
In Baghdad, U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. George Krivo said he had received only “sketchy, initial reports- about the incident and expected to comment in full later.
Cordone has been leading efforts to recover priceless antiquities looted from museums and archaeological sites since Saddam’s fall.
Guerrillas ambushed a U.S. military convoy in Khaldiyah with a remote-controlled bomb Thursday, sparking a heavy gunbattle in which a 3-year-old boy was wounded in the chest and two trucks were destroyed. Two U.S. soldiers were wounded in the attack, the U.S. military said in Baghdad, although it was not known whether the casualties were from the ambush or a separate attack later on a convoy of three Humvees and a truck several miles away.
There was an explosion and huge fire along a pipeline carrying crude oil from the oil fields near Kirkuk to Iraq’s largest refinery at Beiji, the U.S. military said Thursday in Tikrit.