A bomb apparently hidden in a pickup truck exploded yesterday at the offices of a US-allied Kurdish political party in Kirkuk, killing five people and injuring 40, including children, officials said.
It was the second car-bombing in as many days against Iraqis who cooperate with the US-led occupation. Mayor Abdul Rahman Mustapha said ``all indications point'' to a suicide attack.
One body has not been identified and it could be the driver, he said.
Elsewhere, a pro-US politician was assassinated in the southern port city of Basra, his party said yesterday.
Jalal Johar, an official with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), said the powerful explosion occurred about 10:30am. It shattered windows and damaged doors at the two-story yellow and green PUK building and blew out the windows of the nearby radio and television station.
Security guard Assad Ahmed said he saw the pickup moving before the blast but he was unsure if the driver was inside when the explosion occurred. Johar said security had been bolstered around the building following intelligence reports that an attack was likely.
"We think that Islamic terrorist groups and remnants of the [former president] Saddam [Hussein] regime are behind the attack," he said. "They are coordinating between them."
The PUK is a group that supports American efforts in Iraq. Party chief Jalal Talabani is the current head of the US-installed Iraqi Governing Council. One of the PUK's regional rivals in the Kurdish area, Ansar al-Islam, is believed to have ties to al-Qaeda.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
Some US officials suspect Ansar al-Islam is working with Saddam loyalists including Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, former vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council.
US officials have offered a US$10 million reward for the capture of al-Douri.
The latest attack comes after string of bombings and assassinations of politicians and community leaders who have cooperated with the US-led coalition. Insurgents have warned they will target anyone who collaborates with the occupation authorities.
In Basra, the Assyrian Democratic Movement said its representatives on the municipal council was abducted Tuesday on his way to work. The body of Sargoun Nanou Murado was found on Wed-nesday, a statement said.
The Assyrian Democratic Move-ment, which represents Iraq's Assyrian minority, is represented on the 25-seat Governing Council.
The assassination is the second this week of people working with coalition authorities in southern Iraq.
In the town of Diwaniyah, gunmen on Tuesday killed the education ministry's director general for that province.
In yet another attack aimed at a US ally, two people were killed and seven others injured late Wednesday when a car bomb exploded outside the home of Sheik Amer Ali Suleiman, a tribal leader in Ramadi, hospital workers said yesterday.
Suleiman is a leader of the Duleim tribe, one of the largest Sunni Muslim tribes in Iraq. He is a member of the city council and is close to the Americans.
Ramadi, 100km west of the Baghdad, is part of the "Sunni Triangle" where anti-US attacks are concentrated. Rebels have repeatedly attacked police stations and Iraqis perceived to be cooperating with the occupation.
Meanwhile, an American general said on Wednesday the offensive against suspected insurgent targets in central and northern Iraq was to intimidate the guerrillas by "planting the seeds of doubt in their minds" that they can ever overcome US power.
Brigadier General Martin Dempsey said the offensive was designed to demonstrate the effectiveness of US firepower.
"We felt that the enemy had begun to act with a little more impunity than we want him to have," said Dempsey, whose troops are responsible for security in Baghdad.
In northern Iraq, US officers said that 161 people "suspected of anti-coalition activities" were detained on Wednesday.
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