Fri, Oct 10, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Bomb attack in Baghdad kills at least nine

SUICIDE MISSION A surge of violence hit the capital, while Turkey's decision to send troops to Iraq caused an uproar in Iraq's US-appointed Governing Council

AFP , BAGHDAD

An Iraqi man in tears after learning that a relative was killed in an explosion outside a police station in the Baghdad suburb of Al Sadr yesterday.

PHOTO: AP

A suicide attacker blew up an explosive-laden car outside a Baghdad police station yesterday, killing at least eight other people, while a Spanish diplomat was murdered in a surge of violence six months after the fall of former president Saddam Hussein's regime.

The killings came as Ankara's decision to send troops to the war-torn country caused an uproar in both Turkey and Iraq amid widespread warnings their presence would further deteriorate the security situation.

At least nine people were killed and scores others were wounded in the suicide attack on a police station in Baghdad's main Shiite neighborhood of Sadr city, US military police spokesman Captain Sean Kirley said.

"The dead were three police, five civilians and a suicide bomber," he said.

"At around 8:45am an individual driving a vehicle came in front of the building, the guard at the entrance detained him for a brief period of time," Kirley said.

"He was able to neutralize the guard and get inside. Then around five meters from the checkpoint, the car exploded," he said.

US troops later deployed three dozen US armored personnel carriers and set up barbed wire fences around the police station and the charred wreckage of the Oldsmobile which was used in the latest suicide attack since US troops entered Baghdad on April 9.

"I found the head of the bomber," an Iraqi police officer said. "He was bearded."

Meanwhile, a Spanish intelligence officer was murdered early yesterday as he left his Baghdad home, the foreign ministry said in Madrid.

The dead man, Jose Antonio Bernal Gomez, a military attache and intelligence official, was reportedly cut down by machine-gun fire as he left his residence.

Spanish media reports said he had been posted in Iraq since the start of the US-led invasion on March 20. Spain is part of the US-led coalition that is occupying Iraq, and has some 1,250 soldiers in the country.

Several members of Iraq's US-appointed Governing Council, meanwhile, condemned the plan to send Turkish troops across the border into Iraq, whose ethnic Kurdish population is alarmed at the prospect.

"Sending these troops would delay our regaining sovereignty," said council member Nasseer Chaderchi, warning the deployment could affect relations between the neighbors.

Chaderchi said Turkish authorities recently told council members they would not send troops to Iraq without their approval.

But Turkey's parliament authorized on Tuesday the dispatch of troops for a maximum of one year, leaving the decision on the size, location and timing of the deployment to the government to work out with the US.

The Turkish troops -- Ankara has talked of sending up to 10,000 -- would join a US-led force already numbering more than 155,000 from 34 countries, the overwhelming majority from the US.

Turkey's ambassador Osman Paksut insisted the troops would come as "a friendly, stabilizing, contributing factor," and not as "an occupying force."

Despite the council's objections, Iraq's interim foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, did not rule out the deployment would go ahead.

"If Turkish troops were sent, they would be deployed in the east of the country, far from Kurdish zones," Zebari, a Kurd, said in an interview with Al-Hayat newspaper.

"The interim Iraqi government prefers not to have peace forces from neighboring countries because each one has its own political program and its own interests which will lead to unjustified susceptibility and provocation," Zebari said.

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