May 2, 2005
BAGHDAD, Iraq - A car bomb exploded in an upscale shopping district of Baghdad on Monday, killing at least six Iraqis and setting fire to an apartment building, police said, continuing a string of attacks that's left at least 123 people dead since Iraq's interim government appointed a partial Cabinet last week.
Two other bombs exploded in the capital, narrowly missing a top Iraqi security official and a U.S. patrol. In southern Iraq, a British soldier was killed in fighting, the British government said.
On Sunday, insurgents killed at least 36 Iraqis in a series of attacks, including 25 who died and more than 50 who were wounded by a car bomb that ripped through a tent packed with mourners at the funeral of a Kurdish official in the northern city of Tal Afar.
Since Thursday, when Iraq's interim government finally appointed a partial Cabinet after three months of political infighting, at least 123 people, including 11 Americans, have been killed in a slew of bombings, ambushes and other attacks.
Laith Kuba, an adviser to incoming Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, told The Associated Press on Monday that parliament will swear in the new government Tuesday after al-Jaafari appoints officials to the government's two unfilled deputy prime minister positions and the five Cabinet posts now served by acting ministers.
On Sunday, Iraqi militants released a video purporting to show Iraq's latest foreign hostage: an Australian who said he is married to an American and lives in California.
The British Foreign Office also announced three arrests in the abduction of a British aid worker believed slain last year, saying they were made Sunday morning during a coalition raid in an insurgent area 20 miles south of Baghdad.
In Monday's attack on the shopping district in southern Baghdad, the car bomb set fire to a six-story apartment building with a shop on the ground floor and destroyed at least three cars parked nearby, said police Lt. Ali Hussein.
Six civilians were killed and seven wounded by the explosion, which had targeted a police patrol in the area, said police Lt. Col. Salman Abdul Karim Al-Fartosi. No police were hurt, he said.
U.S. and Iraqi officials had hoped to dent support for the militants by including members of the Sunni Arab minority in the new Shiite-dominated Cabinet. Sunnis, who held monopoly power during the rule of Saddam Hussein, are believed to be the backbone of Iraq's insurgency. However, the partial lineup named by al-Jaafari excluded Sunnis from meaningful positions.
Insurgents have used their spectacular attacks and hostage takings to drive home their opposition to U.S.-led forces and their Iraqi allies.
In another attack in Baghdad on Monday, Maj. Gen. Rashid Feleih, the commander of a special Interior Ministry security force, narrowly escaped when a roadside bomb hit his four-car convoy, damaging one vehicle, said police Maj. Mousa Abdul Karim.
Elsewhere, a roadside bomb exploded near a U.S. military patrol in northern Baghdad, but no Americans were hurt, said U.S. Army Master Sgt. Greg Kaufman.
In Tal Afar, 90miles east of the Syrian border, a car bomb exploded Sunday at a tent where mourners had gathered for the funeral of Sayed Talib Sayed Wahab, an official of the Kurdish Democratic Party, said deputy provincial governor Khisru Goran.
Goran, who also serves as a KDP spokesman in the nearby city of Mosul, said the car plowed into the funeral tent and exploded, but the U.S. military said it was not a suicide attack. About 25 people were killed and more than 50 wounded, the U.S. military said.
Six other car bombs exploded in Baghdad on Sunday and at least five American soldiers were injured in the blasts, said Sgt. Andrew Miller, a U.S. military spokesman.
A videotape obtained by Associated Press Television News on Sunday showed a man identifying himself as Douglas Wood, 63, seated between two masked militants pointing automatic weapons at him.
Wood, appearing disheveled and shaken, said he was an Australian national living in the San Francisco area with his American wife. He said he came to Iraq almost a year ago to work on reconstruction projects with the American military. Wood's American wife, Pearl, said she had seen the tape and the man was indeed her husband.
The captive appealed to President Bush, Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Californian Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to order coalition forces out of Iraq and let Iraqis look after themselves, saying he did not want to die.
"My captors are fiercely patriotic. They believe in a strong united Iraq looking after its own destiny," Wood said on the tape.
A militant group calling itself the Shura Council of the Mujahedeen of Iraq claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. The group previously said it abducted a Turkish national who was freed in September.
More than 200 foreigners have been kidnapped in Iraq since Saddam Hussein's regime collapsed in April 2003. More than 30 hostages have been killed by the captors.
Despite the unrelenting violence, Iraq's national security adviser said the fledgling government was making progress against the insurgents.
"There is no shadow of doubt in my mind that by the end of the year, we would have achieved a lot," Mouwafak al-Rubaie said in an interview with CNN. "Probably the back of the insurgency has already been broken."
The British Foreign Office, meanwhile, announced on Sunday three arrests in the abduction of a British aid worker believed slain last year, saying they were made after an early morning sweep of an insurgent area 20 miles south of Baghdad.
An intelligence official with the Iraqi Interior Ministry said five Iraqi suspects had been apprehended and confessed to a role in killing Margaret Hassan, the director of CARE International in Iraq. Martin Cronin, first secretary at the British Embassy in Baghdad, said he was not aware of any confessions.
U.S. and Iraqi forces also recovered articles apparently related to Hassan, the British Embassy said in Baghdad. The Iraqi official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they included a purse, a woman's clothing and CARE documents signed by Hassan.
Hassan, 59, who also held Irish and Iraqi citizenship, was abducted in Baghdad on Oct. 19 on her way to work.