Poland to keep troops in Iraq despite attack-PM

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WARSAW, Oct 3 (Reuters) Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said today Poland would not withdraw a 1,000-strong troop contingent from Iraq after Poland's ambassador was injured in an attack on his convoy in Baghdad.

''Desertion is always the worst option,'' Kaczynski told reporters. ''This is a difficult situation, but those who became engaged and were there for years and then withdraw are making the worst possible mistake.'' Polish ambassador Gen Edward Pietrzyk was wounded and one of his bodyguards died when his diplomatic convoy came under attack in the Iraqi capital today.

Kaczynski and his ruling conservative party, facing a snap election on October 21, support extending the Iraq mission beyond the end of the year even though a majority of Poles believe troops should be coming home.

Some opposition parties are also calling for the end to the mission and the attack on the Polish ambassador could bring the issue up on the campaign agenda.

Kaczynski urged the opposition to rally behind the government, saying any internal split on the issue would encourage more attacks on Polish officials or troops in Iraq.

''This should not be used in the election campaign because it would be the worst outcome if terrorist would have an effect on what happens in a democratic country,'' he said.

REUTERS SKB RN1655

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