January 28, 2008 / 6:24 AM / 12 years ago

Fire engulfs Iraqi central bank, no casualties-police

(Adds Iraqi MP, documents destroyed, paragraphs 3-5)

BAGHDAD, Jan 28 (Reuters) - A large fire engulfed Iraq’s central bank building in Baghdad on Monday, but there were no reports of casualties and the cause of the blaze was unclear, police said.

Police said the fire badly damaged the top four floors of the six-storey building, including the central bank governor’s office. The blaze erupted just after midnight and took more than six hours to put out.

Iraqi lawmaker Sabah al-Saadi, head of a parliamentary integrity committee, said the blaze tore through a section containing important budget documents.

"This department was burned completely," Saadi told Reuters.

He said a large amount of money had been safely evacuated from the building but many documents were lost.

One bank employee and witnesses said flames ripped through most of the building.

"No one can tell you what happened because no one can enter. The fire spread through the whole building," the central bank employee said by telephone from the scene.

Guards at the central bank prevented cameramen and photographers taking pictures of the building, which is surrounded by concrete blast walls in central Baghdad. It is not in the heavily protected Green Zone compound, where key government ministries are located.

The central bank has had a low profile during the upheaval in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

It announced last week that annual inflation in Iraq had fallen dramatically, hitting 12 percent in December 2007, compared with 65 percent a year earlier. (Reporting by Aseel Kami and Waleed Ibrahim; Writing by Dean Yates; Editing by Diana Abdallah)

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