Al Qaeda's Iraq network says behind bank attack
BAGHDAD June 17 (Reuters) - Al Qaeda's Iraqi affiliate claimed responsibility on Thursday for an attack by gunmen and suicide bombers on Iraq's central bank, in which at least 15 people died.
The attack on Sunday triggered a 90-minute gunbattle in the heart of the Iraqi capital, a day before parliament sat for the first time since a March election that produced no clear winner.
National Security Minister, Sherwan al-Waeli, told Reuters the attack was not a robbery, adding that it involved 15 gunmen, including seven suicide bombers.
In a statement published on jihadist websites on Thursday, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) said it was behind the "unique" attack, which was carried out by five men.
A number of attacks since the election, which has yet to produce a government, have been blamed on an effort by Sunni Islamist insurgents linked to al Qaeda to prove it remains a potent force despite the loss of senior commanders.
Overall violence in Iraq has dropped since the sectarian carnage in 2006/07, but bombings and shootings are still common.
Insurgents continue to pose a threat as the United States moves ahead with a plan to end combat operations in August and cut troop numbers from around 85,000 to 50,000 by Sept. 1, before a complete withdrawal by the end of 2011. (Reporting by Muhanad Mohammed and Khalid al-Ansary; Writing by Matt Robinson)