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Iraq Recruit Center Bomb Kills 10

Continuing the stream of violence, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside an army recruiting center in central Baghdad Wednesday, killing at least 10 people. Meanwhile, Sunni Muslim members on a committee drafting the new Iraqi constitution suspended their membership in the wake of a colleague's assassination.

Wearing an explosives belt, the suicide attacker detonated his charge at the entrance to a recruiting center at the defunct Muthanna airport in central Baghdad, according to police and medical officials.

The attack also injured at least 21 people, said Dr. Muhannad Jawad from Yarmouk Hospital. The recruiting center has been targeted multiple times in recent months, with the latest attack on July 10 killing 25 and wounding 47.

In other developments:

  • A U.S. helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing in Taji, north of Baghdad, because of mechanical problems. No injuries were reported, a military spokesman said.
  • Ten explosions were heard Wednesday afternoon at the American military base in Ramadi's eastern neighborhood of Al-Ziraa, 1st Let. Mohamed Al-Obeidi of the city police said. It was unclear what caused the explosions.
  • Shiite members of the committee drafting the new constitution are pushing for a greater role for Islam in Iraqi civil law, members said Wednesday. That could erode women's rights in such matters as marriage, divorce and inheritance. Mariam al-Rayyes, a female Shiite Muslim member of the drafting committee, said Islam will be a "main source" for legislation in the new constitution and the state religion.

    Wednesday's violence came a day after two Sunni Arabs participating in drafting the charter — committee member Mijbil Issa and committee adviser Dhamin Hussein al-Obeidi — were gunned down as they left a Baghdad restaurant. A bodyguard was also killed.

    Issa was among 15 Sunni Arabs appointed to the committee last month to give Sunni Arabs a greater voice in preparing the constitution, which must be approved by parliament by Aug. 15.

    Two Sunnis had already quit due to insurgent threats, and with the death of Issa the others were considering withdrawing from the committee. Kamal Hamdoun, a Sunni member, said the 12 remaining members would meet Thursday with Sunni leaders and decide what to do.

    "Our membership has been suspended temporarily until tomorrow when we meet the committee that chose us," Hamdoun said. "We don't have security."

  • On Wednesday, the government observed three minutes of silence for nearly 100 victims of a massive suicide bombing in Musayyib over the weekend and nearly 30 others, including 18 children and teens, killed in a suicide attack in eastern Baghdad on July 13.

    "Let the entire world see and hear who is standing behind these acts, who wants to kill childhood, to kill innocents and worshippers," said Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

    Throughout the city, observance was sporadic, with Iraqiya Television showing traffic coming to a standstill in the al-Allawi district in central Baghdad as well as along a main street in southern Basra.

    But in other parts of the city, there were no signs that people were observing the memorial.

    "I didn't follow this moment of silence, not because I ignored those who were killed but because I don't believe that this moment of silence will do anything for this tragedy," said Amer Kudhair, 32, a supermarket owner in the Karradah area.

    Meanwhile, an official confirmed that nine staff members of the Iraqi special tribunal preparing to try Saddam Hussein have been dismissed because of links to the ousted dictator's Baath party.

    The cases of 19 others, including the chief investigative judge, are under review.

    The executive director of the Supreme National Commission for de-Baathification, Ali al-Lami, said the nine dismissed staffers held administrative jobs such as the witness security protection program and tribunal security.

    Al-Lami said that the committee is preparing another list for 19 persons, mostly judges, for possible dismissal. They include chief judge Raid Juhi, he said.

    The head of the government committee in charge of purging former Baath officials is Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi, a former Pentagon favorite.

    "We believe that many Baathists have infiltrated the special tribunal and they should be dismissed," said Entifadh Qanbar, Chalabi's spokesman. "The reasons behind the delay in the trial of Saddam is the presence of Baathists in the special tribunal, and they represent an obstacle to the trial of the former regime members."

    Elsewhere, explosions were reported Wednesday at two domestic oil pipelines in central Iraq, police said. An early morning blast hit a pipeline 10 miles south of Samarra, linking the Beiji and Dora refineries, said Capt. Ahmed Salih.

    A Tuesday explosion occurred at a crude oil storage depot 25 miles south of Baghdad, said another policeman, Rashid al-Samarei.

    The pipelines do not carry fuel for export but feed domestic power plants. Such attacks often mean more electricity shortages for Baghdad's 6.5 million people.

    Even before the pipelines were hit, the Azzam newspaper quoted the electricity ministry saying that power cuts would be extended in Baghdad. Electricity will be provided for two hours followed by a 10-hour cut instead of the two hours followed by a four-hour cut-off.

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