Iraq: Bombs & Bullets Kill 40

CAROUSEL_Miss USA contestanrt poses in controversial 2010 photo spread Courtesy of the Miss Universe Organization Photo Credit: Fadil Berisha
Miss Universe Organization; Fadil Berisha
Insurgents exploded two car bombs at the gates of the main U.S.-Iraqi headquarters in Baghdad and near major hotels Monday, killing at least 21 people and wounding 96.

In the first explosion, a four-wheel-drive vehicle packed with explosives detonated outside the heavily fortified Green Zone, the seat of the U.S. Embassy and key Iraqi government offices, Interior Ministry spokesman Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman said. At least 15 people were killed and 81 wounded.

The second bomb targeted a convoy of 4-wheel drive vehicles leaving a complex of major hotels where foreign contractors and journalists reside.

At least six people were killed and 15 wounded, said Tahsin al-Freiji of the U.S.-trained Facility Protection Service, which guards major installations in the city.

In other developments:

  • A militant group claimed Monday to have killed a Turkish and an Iraqi hostage, the Arab news network Al-Jazeera reported. In Italy, the family of a kidnapped Iraqi businessman said they had been notified by the Italian government that the man, Ajad Anwar Wali, had been killed by his captors in Iraq. It was not immediately known if Wali, who was a longtime resident of Italy, was the Iraqi that the Salafist Brigades claimed to have killed.
  • Militants released two kidnapped Indonesian women who were handed over Monday to the United Arab Emirates Embassy in Baghdad, diplomats said.
  • A car bomb exploded in Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, said Capt. Angela Bowman, a military spokeswoman. Two people believed to be transporting the explosives and a civilian bystander were killed. Officials at a nearby hospital said they treated 11 people injured in the blast.
  • In Baqouba, a police commander was assassinated in an early morning drive-by shooting by unknown gunmen, police said. Insurgents also fired mortar rounds at Baqouba's municipal building, killing one person and wounding seven in the city 35 miles northeast of Baghdad.
  • In Baghdad, gunmen killed a senior official of Iraq's Sciences and Technology Ministry and a female employee near the southeastern Zayona suburb.
  • The headless body of a police captain, who was still in uniform, has been found in northern Iraq, police said Monday.
  • Poland, a key U.S. ally in Iraq, should withdraw its stabilization troops at the end of next year, the country's defense minister said in an interview published Monday — the first time that a Polish official has indicated when Warsaw might end its presence.
  • An expelled senior member of a key political party remained defiant Monday after an Iraqi court issued an arrest warrant against him for visiting the "enemy state" of Israel. Mithal al-Alusi, a former leading figure in the Iraqi National Congress, attended a conference on terrorism held in Israel last month and was subsequently fired from the party.
  • Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini has proposed inviting radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose militias have been fighting U.S.-led forces in Iraq, if an international conference on Iraq is convened next month, an Italian newspaper said Monday.
  • The British Embassy in Iraq said Monday it had no information about news reports that British hostage Kenneth Bigley has been handed over to another kidnapping group. Bigley, an engineer, was kidnapped two weeks ago in Baghdad along with two American colleagues who have since been beheaded.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court is declining to hear a lawyer's challenge to the government's detention of Saddam Hussein. Washington attorney Curtis Doebbler argued Saddam's detention violates numerous international laws — as well as his Fifth Amendment right "to be free of arbitrary detention."
  • A newspaper reports that despite doubt from some of its own experts, Bush administration officials claimed in the run-up to war that Iraq's pursuit of aluminum tubes was evidence of Saddam's nuclear ambitions.
  • In rebel-held Fallujah, American warplanes unleashed strikes on two houses early Monday, killing at least 11 people, hospital officials said. The military, which regularly accuses hospitals of inflating casualty figures, said the strikes targeted followers of Jordanian terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and their associates.

    The military said a "precision strike" at about 1 a.m. hit a building where about 25 insurgents were moving weapons on the outskirts of Fallujah. Intelligence sources said insurgents were using the site to store weapons and conduct training, the military said in a statement, adding that precautions were taken to "ensure no innocent civilians were present" at the time of the strikes.

    Shortly before 3:30 a.m., coalition forces struck a site where members of al-Zarqawi's network were believed to be meeting, another military statement said.

    It was the latest in weeks of strikes in the city 40 miles west of Baghdad aimed at groups with links to terrorists, particularly al-Zarqawi's network. Followers of the Jordanian militant have claimed responsibility for a string of deadly bombings, kidnappings and other attacks across the country.

    Monday's violence comes a day after Iraqi security forces emerged to patrol Samarra following a morale-boosting victory in the Sunni Triangle city of Samarra.

    American and Iraqi commanders have declared the operation in Samarra, 60 miles northwest of Baghdad, a successful first step in a major push to wrest key areas of Iraq from insurgents before January elections.

    But locals were angered by the civilian death toll.

    Of the 70 dead brought to Samarra General Hospital since fighting erupted, 23 were children and 18 were women, hospital official Abdul-Nasser Hamed Yassin said Sunday. Another 160 wounded people also were treated.

    "The people who were hurt most are normal people who have nothing to do with anything," said Abdel Latif Hadi, 45.