Wednesday, March 16, 2005

"BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraq's first freely elected parliament in half a century began its opening session Wednesday after a series of explosions targeted the gathering. The opening marked a major milestone on the road to forming a new government in a country still beset by violence.

The parliament's 275 members, elected during Jan. 30 elections, convened in an auditorium amid tight security in the heavily guarded Green Zone with U.S. helicopter gunships hovering overhead.

Minutes before convening, at least a half dozen explosions detonated a few hundred yards away. The U.S. military said two mortar rounds landed inside the zone but caused no injuries.

The lawmakers opened with a reading of verses from the Quran. Iraqi Chief Justice Medhat al Mahmoud then administered the oath to the assembled deputies."
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