Tue, Jul 20, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Fuel-truck blast rocks Baghdad

BOMBING At least nine died, and many more were injured, in another of Iraq's now-routine tragedies. Meanwhile, a senior defense official was assassinated

AP , BAGHDAD

An Iraqi National Guardsmen gestures near the site of a tanker-truck attack near a police station in Baghdad yesterday. At least nine people were killed and 56 wounded.

PHOTO: AFP

A fuel truck rigged with explosives plowed toward a police station in southwest Baghdad early yesterday, exploding in flames and killing nine people and wounding about 60 others, Iraqi officials and witnesses said.

In a separate incident, a senior Iraqi Defense Ministry official was assassinated near his home in southern Baghdad, in the latest of a string of attacks on Iraqi officials, a ministry spokesman said yesterday.

He said that Issam Jassem Qassim, a director general in the ministry, was killed by three gunmen late on Sunday.

The morning truck blast outside the police station in the Seidiyeh neighborhood, the latest in a string of deadly attacks on police, came as officers gathered to receive their daily assignments.

"We were all standing in a row, listening to our officer as he gave us our assignment for the day," said Mehdi Salah Abed Ali, 32, lying in a bed at al-Yarmuk hospital, a bandage around his leg.

"There were many policemen standing in the square when the truck exploded," he said.

The explosion took place just after 8am.

In another such attack, the body of Lieutenant Colonel Nafi al-Kubaisi, the police chief of the town of Heet, was discovered yesterday at a market in nearby Fallujah, police said. Al-Kubaisi had been kidnapped on Saturday from his police station, said police Captain Nasir Abdullah.

Also yesterday, six cars filled with waving Filipino soldiers left their camp in Hillah, south of Baghdad, after paying an "exit call" on the Polish commander at the base.

The troops were the last members of a 51-strong Philippine contingent here that was pulled out of the country to meed the demands of kidnappers holding a Filipino truck driver hostage.

Philippine Foreign Secretary Delia Albert said they would travel by road to Kuwait then take a commercial flight home.

"Before the end of this day, all members of the Philippine humanitarian contingent will be out of Iraq," she said in a nationally televised statement.

The fuel truck's presence in the industrial area, close to car repair and electrical workshops, did not raise concerns until it started speeding toward the police station, said Ahmed Nouri, a worker at a nearby car wash.

"I was standing with a friend when we saw the truck speeding in an unnatural way," Nouri said.

Nouri described the driver of the vehicle as a young man with a light beard.

The fuel truck exploded about 150m from the fenced-in, two-storey police station.

In other violence, a bomb exploded near a military base in Baqouba, north of the capital, injuring two young shepherds, said Ali Hameid al-Jobori, an official at Baqouba's main hospital.

Militants also fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a fire station in the Baghdad neighborhood of al-Salihiya, injuring one person, the US military said.

Also yesterday, Turkmenistan broadcaster Leith Hussein Ali was killed when their car came under fire in the northern city of Mosul, police said.

The violence came a day after a US airstrike authorized by Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi hit targets in Fallujah, killing 14 people, Iraqi officials said.

Also see story:

Philippine force's chief returns home

Iraqi paper that set off conflict is to publish again

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