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More Blasts Across Baghdad

Five car bombs targeted U.S. and Iraqi troops in the capital Friday, killing at least 10 Iraqi civilians and security personnel a day after guards captured a would-be suicide bomber near the entrance to the heavily guarded Green Zone.

Two U.S. Marines died Thursday in a blast near the Jordanian border, the U.S. military reported Friday.

Eight Iraqis — civilians and security personnel — were killed when a suicide car bomber attacked an army base in the Shaab neighborhood in northern Baghdad, according to Maj. Khazim al-Tamimi.

Two Iraqi soldiers died and six were wounded when a suicide attacker detonated a car bomb near an Iraqi patrol in Andalus Square in central Baghdad, Col. Salman Abdul Karim said.

A car bomb also exploded near a U.S. convoy in the Rustamiyah area of southeastern Baghdad, witnesses said, but there was no comment from U.S. authorities on the Rustamiyah blast.

A suicide car bomb exploded on the old Defense Ministry building in northern Baghdad, causing an undetermined number of casualties, a policeman said on condition of anonymity.

One car bomb exploded in eastern Baghdad, wounding five civilians, police said. Witnesses said the bomber missed a U.S. patrol.

In other developments:

  • Mortar shells exploded Friday near the headquarters of an Iraqi commando battalion in the Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah of north Baghdad, police said. Three mortars also fell across the Tigris River in the Shiite district Kazimiyah, police added. No casualties nor damage were reported in any of the blasts. The blasts occurred on the Muslim day of prayer, ordinarily a relatively quiet period in the capital. There were no claims of responsibility.
  • German opposition leader Angela Merkel said in an interview published Friday that she won't send troops to Iraq if, as many expect, she wins likely September elections. Merkel's Christian Democrats have promised to "reinvigorate" relations with the U.S., strained by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's vehement opposition to the 2003 Iraq war. However, she is treading carefully on Iraq, reflecting the war's huge unpopularity in Germany.

    The two Marines were killed Thursday when their vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb near Trebil along Iraq's border with Jordan, the U.S. military said Friday. The victims were assigned to Regimental Combat Team 2 of the 2nd Marine Division and were conducting combat operations at the time, the statement said.

    As of Thursday, at least 1,759 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 1,354 died as a result of hostile action. The figures include five military civilians.

  • The Iraqi affiliate of al Qaeda claimed responsibility for a largely unsuccessful suicide attack Thursday near the Green Zone entrance. The area is home to the U.S. Embassy and major Iraqi government offices.

    The attack was meant to be part of coordinated assaults by a suicide car bomber and two pedestrians strapped with explosives. The attackers apparently planned to detonate the car bomb first. Then the two pedestrians would blow themselves up in the midst of troops, police and rescue workers rushing to the scene, U.S. officials said.

    The car bomb exploded successfully. But one pedestrian bomber was killed after an Iraqi policeman shot him, setting off his explosive vest, a U.S. statement said.

    The second pedestrian bomber was wounded by shrapnel from that blast before he could detonate his own vest, and was in critical condition at a U.S. military hospital in the Green Zone, the statement said.

    Five policemen and four civilians also were wounded by the explosions and gunfire, officials at Yarmouk Hospital said.

    Would-be bombers are rarely captured in Iraq. A 19-year-old Saudi was taken into custody after he somehow survived the explosion of his fuel tanker in December, a blast that killed nine people. A Yemeni was arrested in 2003 when his car bomb failed to detonate at a Baghdad police station.

    There was no word on the identity of the failed bomber, but his arrest could yield valuable intelligence on the shadowy network of Islamic extremists, many of them believed to be foreigners linked to al Qaeda.

    The U.S. command said Friday that American and Iraqi forces raided suspected "terrorist safe houses" in the Ghazaliyah and the Abu Ghraib districts Thursday. The areas are two of the most dangerous in the city. Eight suspects were taken into custody, a U.S. statement said, and soldiers found an Iraqi general's uniform in one location.

    The raids occurred as U.S. and Iraqi troops appeared to be accelerating the search for insurgents, including those linked to Jordanian-born terror mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of al Qaeda's branch in Iraq.

    About 30 suspected members of the group, known as al Qaeda in Iraq, were arrested in the past week, the U.S. command said Thursday. They included Khamis Abdul-Fahdawi, known as Abu Seba, who was captured Saturday after operations in the Ramadi area west of Baghdad.

    A U.S. statement said Abu Seba was a suspect in the "attacks against diplomats of Bahrain, Pakistan and the recent murder of Egyptian envoy" Ihab al-Sherif, who was abducted in western Baghdad on July 2.

    Al Qaeda claimed in an Internet posting July 7 that it had killed al-Sherif to punish Egypt for supporting the U.S.-backed Iraqi government.

    Another top suspect, Abdullah Ibrahim al-Shadad, or Abu Abdul-Aziz, was arrested during a raid Sunday in Baghdad, the U.S. statement said. It identified him as the operations officer for al Qaeda in Iraq. In an Internet statement Thursday, al Qaeda acknowledged that Abu Abdul Aziz had been apprehended but played down his importance.

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