A car bomb exploded yesterday near the Ministry of Education in a busy commercial area in northern Baghdad, killing at least eight people, according to the Interior Ministry and hospital officials.
The blast in the mainly Sunni Adhamiya district badly damaged the Education Ministry building and destroyed 31 cars. The body of an elderly man lay on the ground on fire after the explosion, which scattered body parts across the street.
The bomb exploded in a side-street near a ministry building wall at about 9:30am, gouging a big crater in the tarmac. Water from burst pipes flooded the street.
Interior Ministry spokesman Colonel Adnan Abdul-Rahman said the blast was caused by a car bomb.
Hospital officials said a woman was among the dead and a child was among the wounded.
Among the casualties was Abbas Kadhim, 32, who was hit in the stomach by fragments of concrete as he sat in his car.
He wept after being treated at the nearby Noman hospital.
"I'm not crying because I'm wounded, but because of my brother. I was with him and I don't know what happened to him," he said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
Insurgents also captured a US soldier in the city of Samarra, north of Baghdad, an Iraqi police spokesman said yesterday.
Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Ahmed told reporters the soldier had been seized on Monday night by gunmen in two Opel cars. He said US troops were out in force in the streets of the Sunni Muslim city yesterday.
A US military spokesman said he had no information on the incident. Ahmed said the Americans had alerted Iraqi security forces and asked them to look out for the missing soldier.
In other developments, saboteurs also mounted the biggest attacks yet on Iraq's oil infrastructure, blowing up three pipelines in the north on Monday night and halting exports via Turkey, oil officials said.
A roadside bomb exploded near a convoy of Iraqi National Guard vehicles near Abu Ghraib, in Baghdad's western outskirts, wounding two guardsmen, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.
The US military said an air strike on Monday night had destroyed an arms cache in a southeastern part of Falluja. Hospital officials said five people were wounded in the raid.
US Marines are poised for a new offensive against Falluja and its sister city of Ramadi, where hospital staff said 10 people were killed and nine wounded in clashes on Monday.