Iraq Blasts Kill At Least 24

An Iraqi soldier stands guard at the scene where a roadside bomb killed 18 people in the northern town of Kirkuk, Iraq Tuesday June 14, 2005. The roadside bomb exploded near a queue of people waiting outside the Rafidiyan Bank in downtown Kirkuk. (AP Photo/Yahya Ahmed)
A bomb exploded outside a bank in the northern city of Kirkuk on Tuesday, killing 19 people, including pensioners waiting for checks and child street vendors. The bodies of 24 men killed in ambushes were brought to a Baghdad hospital.

A suicide car bomber also rammed his vehicle into an Iraqi army checkpoint, killing five soldiers and wounding two others in Kan'an, about 30 miles north of Baghdad, Iraqi Army Col. Ismael Ibrahim said. Two civilians were also wounded.

The spree of killings across the country comes as lawmakers wrangle over how big a say Sunni Arab Muslims should have drawing up the country's new constitution. The wrangling threatens to further alienate Sunni Arabs, who fell from power after their patron, Saddam Hussein, was ousted and detained. Sunni Arabs account for most of the insurgents wreaking havoc across Iraq.

In other developments:

  • On Monday, new footage of a subdued-looking Saddam released by the Iraqi Special Tribunal showed the former dictator being quizzed by a judge — apparently on Sunday — about the killings of at least 50 Iraqis in a Shiite town. Unlike Saddam's combative appearance at his arraignment on July 1, 2004 — the last time he was seen on video — the new tape reveals a man who appears a shadow of his former self.
  • U.S. and Iraqi officials are considering some difficult-to-swallow ideas as they try to divide and conquer insurgents fighting in Iraq, including amnesty for some of the militants. Officials say negotiations have begun to try to draft an amnesty policy, which would attempt to reach out to Iraqis fighting U.S. forces. Authorities tell The Associated Press that amnesty would not be extended to foreign extremists like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who are responsible to Iraq's bloodiest attacks.
  • As of Monday, June 13, 2005, at least 1,701 members of the U.S. military have died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,301 died as a result of hostile action, according to the Defense Department. The figures include five military civilians. The AP count is four higher than the Defense Department's tally, last updated at 10 a.m. EDT Monday. The British military has reported 89 deaths; Italy, 25; Ukraine, 18; Poland, 17; Spain, 11; Bulgaria, 10; Slovakia, three; Estonia, Thailand and the Netherlands, two each; and Denmark, El Salvador, Hungary, Kazakhstan and Latvia one death each.

    The bomb in Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad, killed 19 people, including retirees waiting for checks and child street vendors, outside the Rafidiyan Bank, said police Brig. Sarhad Qadir. He said another 81 people were injured.

    The bomb exploded close to a walkover bridge crossing the road in front of the bank. Children and other vendors selling products from sugar to kitchen utensils on both the bridge and the road underneath were among those killed.

    "I came here to get my wages and I brought my grandson with me who insisted on accompanying me," said Hussein Mohammed, a 70-year old retired employee of the Northern Oil Company, his head swathed in bandages. "The bomb exploded as we queued outside the bank and we were injured and rushed to hospital." The child survived.