Bombs In Iraq Kill 3 U.S. Soldiers

2006/6/23 #954176: US Airways Express airplanes on the tarmac LaGuardia Airport, New York AP Photo

Roadside bombs have claimed more American lives, killing three U.S. soldiers in separate attacks in Baghdad and Sunni Muslim areas to the north of the capital. At least six soldiers were wounded in the attacks, one critically.

In the biggest attack, one soldier from Task Force Iron Horse was killed and four were wounded in a roadside bombing in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. One of the wounded was critically injured and the other three were in guarded condition, the military said.

A soldier from Task Force Olympia was killed and another wounded by a bomb Monday evening in Tall Afar in northern Iraq. A soldier from the 1st Armored Division died and another was wounded in a bombing Monday in central Baghdad.

The latest deaths brought to 541 the number of Americans who have died since President Bush launched the Iraq war on March 20. Most of the casualties have occurred since Mr. Bush declared an end to active combat May 1.

They follow a week of heavy bloodshed in Iraq, in which suicide bombings killed 100 and 25 died in an assault on a prison in Fallujah.

In other developments:

  • A new dispute over Iraq's political future may have opened up, with the top U.S. official vowing to block any move to make Islamic law the foundation of Iraq's new system.

  • Nobel Prize laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu says Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush must apologize for starting an "immoral" war in Iraq based on "dangerously flawed" intelligence, the Independent newspaper reported.

  • Police arrested five Iraqis suspected in the assassination of Aquila al-Hashimi, a member of the Governing Council who was gunned down on Sept. 20. She was the highest official in the post-Saddam Hussein administration to be killed since Saddam's fall.

  • Baghdad's trade fair has been postponed for a month in hopes more companies can be encouraged to participate and bring in more foreign investment, officials said.

  • South Korea's president met with envoys from 13 north African and Middle Eastern nations to explain why his government was sending 3,000 troops to Iraq.

  • Halliburton said it has temporarily suspended billing for $140 million in meals for American troops in Iraq and Kuwait while questions are resolved about the number of meals planned and those served. The company had been charging the government for the projected number of meals instead of the actual number served. Pentagon auditors are questioning whether that amounted to overcharging.

  • Australian Prime Minister John Howard must take responsibility for sending troops to Iraq based on flawed intelligence, opposition lawmakers said, amid reports an inquiry will blame Australia's spymasters for the decision.

  • Twenty-five U.S. soldiers were injured, four seriously, when their bus rolled over near a Kuwaiti air base on the weekend, a spokesman for the American military said.
    Witnesses said two roadside bombs exploded Tuesday outside the Anbar Medical College and hospital in Ramadi in the Sunni Triangle, damaging a U.S. Army Humvee. It was unclear if any soldiers or civilians were injured. A third bomb was defused.

    As the casualties mount, the United States and its allies are preparing to hand over sovereignty to the Iraqis by July 1, despite disagreements over the best way to choose a new government.

    On Monday, U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer said he would move to block any effort by Iraqi leaders to put Islamic law as the foundation of legislation in the interim constitution, which is supposed to take effect at the end of February.

    However, Mohsen Abdel-Hamid, the current president of the Iraqi Governing Council and a Sunni Muslim hard-liner, has proposed making Islamic law the "principal basis" of legislation, which many Iraqi women's groups fear will threaten their legal rights.

    "Our position is clear," Bremer said when asked what he would do if the Iraqis wrote Islamic law as the principal basis of the legal code. "It can't be law until I sign it."

    Under most interpretations of Islamic law, women's rights to seek divorce are strictly limited and they only receive half the inheritance of men. Islamic law also allows for polygamy and often permits marriage of girls at a younger age than does secular law.

    Bremer must sign all measures passed by the 25-member council before they can become law, including the interim constitution.

    The procedure for handing power to Iraqis was already in dispute.

    Iraq's powerful Shiite clergy wants direct elections before the handover of power, while the U.S. insists on regional caucuses. A U.N. team is currently studying the dispute.

    Shiite clergy also wants the interim constitution to be approved by an elected legislature. Under U.S. plans, a permanent constitution would not be drawn up and voted on by the Iraqi people until 2005.

    Also Monday, relatives of the former speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Saadoun Hammadi, said the 74-year-old politician was released Saturday after nine months in U.S. custody.

    Hammadi, who was not on the U.S. military's list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis, was a U.S.-educated proponent of economic liberalization and developed reforms after the 1980-88 war with Iran that were blocked by the sudden collapse in oil prices in 1990. He holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Wisconsin.

    In Samawah, 230 miles south of the capital, Iraqi police said an explosion Tuesday damaged a small video store that purportedly sold pornographic movies. The pre-dawn explosion caused minor damage and no one was injured, Iraqi police Sgt. Hussan Tohayer said.

    The owner, 17-year-old Mostafa Halim, said he only sold religious compact discs.
    • Joel Roberts

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