Baghdad suicide car bomb, other insurgent attacks kill more than 20 Iraqis
BAGHDAD, Iraq – It wasn’t on the scale of past attacks that killed dozens of people. But when a suicide bomber plowed his explosives-laden car into police in Baghdad, killing four people, it was a sign that insurgents are still working to wreak devastation in the capital.Violence swelled elsewhere as well. A police colonel stepped into his car in Kirkuk with his two sons, headed to work in the morning and a bomb went off, killing the three of them and two young girls in a car nearby. In all more than 20 Iraqis were killed in shootings and bomb blasts Sunday.Still, with the toll among American service members in the Iraq war approaching 2,000 dead, the U.S. military said it has hampered insurgents’ ability to unleash more suicide bombings with a series of offensives this month in towns along the Euphrates River in western Iraq that disrupted militant preparations for attacks.”We have interrupted the flow of the suicide missions into the large urban areas. Certainly, we have had success denying free movement of car bombs into Baghdad,” Brig. Gen. Donald Alston told reporters in the capital.”It is also a function of Iraqi citizens who have come forward and with their support we have found car bomb factories. We have found a series of large weapon caches,” he said.In Sunday’s attack, the bomber plowed his explosives-laden car into two police vehicles in downtown Tahrir Square at 11:30 a.m., killing two police officers and two civilians. U.S. troops swept into the scene in Humvees as a crowd of bystanders gathered around the smoking wreckage, tending to the 11 wounded.In the past, Baghdad has been heavily battered by deadly suicide attacks, with a string of them killing nearly 700 people from April 1 to early September.But amid an intensified security clampdown, suicide car bombings have been greatly reduced in recent weeks, and those that have occurred have caused fewer casualties. Across the country, they have fallen since the Oct. 15 referendum on a new constitution.Sunday’s attack was the deadliest suicide attack in the capital since a Sept. 26 attack killed seven people near the Oil Ministry.Roadside bombs hit three separate U.S. convoys in Baghdad on Sunday morning, wounding a total of five soldiers, a military spokesman, U.S. Sgt. 1st Class David Abrams, said.The violence came after a week in which 23 U.S. troops were reported killed, raising to 1,996 the number of military personnel who have died since the war began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.A suicide car bomber rammed into a U.S. military convoy Sunday morning in the northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk, killing two civilians and wounding 13.Attacks also flared in north-central Iraq. The slaying of the police colonel and his children came in Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad.Lt. Colonel Haitham Akram had just left his home and was getting into his car with his two sons when a bomb nearby went off, killing the three of them, said police Lt. Qusay Mushaal. The explosion set a nearby car ablaze, killing two young girls, aged 7 and 9.Around the city of Baqouba, east of Tikrit, a string of drive-by shootings killed a police lieutenant, three civilians and a Shiite student-cleric.Gunmen also shot to death three Iraqi contractors driving a water truck to an Iraqi army base on a highway near Taji, north of Baghdad, said police Lt. Abdul-Razaq Al-Hayali.In Baghdad, gunmen opened fire on a car carrying Shiite workers, killing one and wounding two others. Insurgents also killed a leader of a Shiite anti-Saddam group and his driver n their car on a highway outside the southern city of Amarah, police said.Also Sunday, investigative judges took testimony from the first witness in the mass murder trial of Saddam Hussein and seven members of his former Baathist regime over the 1982 massacre of 148 Shiites in the town of Dujail.The judges went to a military hospital at Baghdad airport to take the deposition from Wadah Ismail al-Sheik, a bedridden cancer patient who was director of the investigation department at Saddam’s feared Mukhabarat intelligence agency at the time of the Dujail massacre. Al-Sheik is too sick to appear in court, and officials did not want to wait until the trial resumes on Nov. 28 to get his testimony.The U.S. military on Sunday confirmed that four American contractors were killed and two wounded in Iraq last month when their convoy got lost.The attack occurred on Sept. 20 when the convoy, which included U.S. military guards riding in Humvees, made a wrong turn into the mostly Sunni Arab town of Duluiyah, 45 miles north of Baghdad. Insurgents opened fire with rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, Maj. Richard Goldenberg, a spokesman for Task Force Liberty in north-central Iraq, told The Associated Press.Alerted of the attack, a quick reaction team went to the scene, finding all four Americans still in their vehicles with bullet wounds, one of them burned from a fire in the vehicle. One was still alive but died later of his wounds, the military said. Two others were wounded and survived the attack.Three of the dead worked for Houston-based Halliburton Co.’s subsidiary KBR – formerly known as Kellogg Brown & Root, the biggest U.S. military contractor in Iraq. It was not clear who the fourth slain American worked for.