.contact us |.about us
News > International News ... ...
Spanish diplomat gunned down in Baghdad street
( 2003-10-10 09:48) (Agencies)

Gunmen killed a Spanish diplomat in Baghdad on Thursday, shooting him down in the street as he fled his home in just bare feet and undershorts.

The Spanish Foreign Ministry said Jose Antonio Bernal was killed near his home in the upmarket Mansur neighborhood, location of many embassies and homes of diplomats, having opened the door to one of his attackers.

The gunmen had chased him for 50 yards firing their pistols. One of them appeared to be a cleric.

The chilling assassination raised new questions over security in Baghdad as the suburb is one of the most heavily patrolled and protected in the city.

Bernal, 34, was an air force sergeant working for intelligence services at the Spanish embassy. He was married with a daughter.

The motive for the shooting was unclear. Spain backed the U.S.-led war on Iraq and has since sent troops to the country to help restore order, but Foreign Minister Ana Palacio said there was no confirmation he was attacked because of his nationality.

"There is a piece of evidence that has to be analyzed and that is that he opened the door to his attacker and so he must have known him. He is not someone who would have opened the door to just anybody," Palacio told Spanish state radio.

Witnesses said three men pulled up in a brown car outside the diplomat's two-storey house, surrounded by a two-meter (6-1/2 foot) high white wall, at about 7:30 a.m., about 30 minutes before Bernal would normally leave to walk to the nearby embassy.

They said one was wearing a black turban and appeared to be a Shi'ite cleric. The other two pointed pistols at several unarmed security guards and threatened to kill them if they interfered.

"The cleric knocked on the gate and the diplomat opened it," said Adeeb Mustafa, a mechanic who saw the incident. The men with pistols positioned themselves on either side of the gate.

"(The Spaniard) was barefoot, wearing only his undershorts. As soon as he saw the cleric, he pushed him and ran to his left down the street."


A security guard at a school on the same secluded street said the men pursued Bernal for nearly 50 yards.

"They chased him down the road firing their pistols at him all the time," Ahmed Ismael said.

Bernal was just 10 yards from reaching a busy highway where he might have found safety when he was shot.

"One bullet struck him in the head and he collapsed on the street. The three men jumped back into the car and sped away."

Spain has about 1,300 troops in Iraq, mostly concentrated in Shi'ite Muslim areas south of Baghdad.

The Spanish government of Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar has been an unflagging supporter of President Bush on Iraq and is scheduled to host a donors conference on Iraq in Madrid in two weeks.

The slain diplomat's father, also named Jose Antonio Bernal, told Spanish state radio: "I am very sad, immensely sad, but I also have the satisfaction that he died in an act of service."

Madrid's Foreign Ministry described Bernal as an information attache working for Spain's National Intelligence Center. The Defense Ministry said he was a first sergeant of the air force attached to the embassy.

A Foreign Ministry statement said Bernal had worked in Iraq for two years "and maintained an ample network of personal contacts necessary for properly performing his job.

"Mr Bernal apparently recognized some of the people who showed up at his residence when he opened the door," it said.

The United Nations in Baghdad has been hit twice by suicide bombers. An attack on August 19 killed 22 people including the top U.N. diplomat in Iraq. A truck bomb at the Jordanian embassy on August 7 killed at least 17 people.

About two hours after Bernal's killing, a suicide bomber attacked a police station in a poor Shi'ite area of the capital, killing at least nine people including himself.

Spanish embassy staff were sent home shortly after the attack on their colleague, a security guard said.

  Today's Top News   Top International News
+Countdown soon for manned space launch
( 2003-10-10)
+Determined to defend Diaoyu Islands
( 2003-10-10)
+Floods force 20,000 to relocate
( 2003-10-10)
+Better SARS prevention urged
( 2003-10-10)
+Japanese urged to be aware of China's laws
( 2003-10-10)
+Success halts tests of Novartis breast cancer drug
( 2003-10-10)
+Baghdad suicide blast kills 10, wounds 45
( 2003-10-09)
+Russia soothes NATO concerns over nuclear posture
( 2003-10-10)
+Arafat not dying, doctor and officials say
( 2003-10-10)
+Spanish diplomat gunned down in Baghdad street
( 2003-10-10)
  Go to Another Section  
  Article Tools  
  Related Articles  

+Spanish diplomat shot dead in Baghdad

        .contact us |.about us
  Copyright By chinadaily.com.cn. All rights reserved