Iraq's Deadliest Month

Iraqis search for their belongings, following a bomb explosion, in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday Aug.16, 2006. AP Photo/hadi Mizban

Bombs killed at least 19 people in the Iraqi capital Wednesday, as British troops drove off dozens of gunmen who laid siege to the governor's office in the southern city of Basra, apparently to avenge a tribal leader killed the day before.

In Baghdad, deputy Health Minister Adel Muhsin said about 3,500 Iraqis died last month in sectarian or political violence nationwide. Muhsin said he had no comparative figures for other months but added that the July figure was the highest monthly tally of the war.

Last week, the ministry said about 1,500 violent deaths were reported in the Baghdad area alone in July.

Eight people, most of them day laborers waiting for work, were killed when a bomb exploded about 11:10 a.m. in the Nahda district, police Lt. Bilal Ali said. Two other bombs went off Wednesday evening in central Baghdad, killing 11 people and injuring 44, police said.

Clashes broke out in Basra, Iraq's second largest city, when members of the Bani Assad tribe attacked the Basra governor's office, believing provincial officials were behind the killing of a tribal leader Tuesday, according to an official trapped in the besieged building.

The tribesmen fled after British armored vehicles arrived. Basra Gov. Mohammed al-Waeli said one policeman was killed and four others wounded. Seven attackers were arrested, he added.

Authorities imposed an indefinite curfew on the city to allow tempers to cool.

In Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, armed clashes erupted Wednesday between police and assailants in three neighborhoods on the western side of the Tigris River, police Lt. Col. Abdul-Karim Ahmed Khalaf said.

At least five gunmen were killed and six were arrested, he said. Western Mosul is predominantly Sunni Arab, while Kurds dominate in the east of the city.

The clashes occurred one day after a a suicide car bomber killed nine people in an attack on the Mosul headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, a Kurdish party headed by President Jalal Talabani.

In other developments:

  • A roadside bomb exploded Wednesday near an Iraqi army patrol north of Hillah, killing three soldiers and wounding four, police 1st Lt. Osama Ahmed said. Hillah is a mostly Shiite city about 60 miles south of Baghdad.

  • In Kut, 100 miles southeast of Baghdad, authorities found three bodies floating in the Tigris. All were bound, blindfolded and showed signs of torture, morgue official Maamoun al-Ajili said.

  • American journalist Jill Carroll is talking publicly for the first time about being held hostage in Iraq for 82 days. She said her captors tried to convert her.

  • A Danish soldier was shot in the back Wednesday during an assignment in southern Iraq, the military said. He was taken to a hospital at the Danish camp near Basra, Defense Command Denmark said in a statement.

    An Iraqi militant group Wednesday released a video showing a Katyusha rocket purportedly fired at the U.S.-controlled Green Zone in a gesture of solidarity with Shiite guerrillas in Lebanon.

    • Joel Roberts

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