Insurgents blew up an Iraqi train carrying petroleum products yesterday, setting off a huge blaze, as foreign governments angrily condemned the murder of two Algerian diplomats kidnapped last week in Baghdad.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari accused rebels of seeking to undermine diplomatic ties between the Arab world and Iraq, and signalled that US-led coalition forces would be called on to protect foreign diplomats in the capital.
The morning attack against the oil train was the first such in the country, railway spokesman Jawad Al-Kharsan said. The attack ignited a massive blaze extending down the railway line in southern Baghdad.
The seven-tanker convoy was approaching the Dura oil refinery, less than a kilometer away, when it was attacked.
An interior ministry official said the train struck a bomb on the line, but railway workers said the explosion could also have been caused by a rocket-propelled grenade.
There were no initial reports of casualties and the five-man train crew escaped unhurt, officials said.
In other violence, the US military said yesterday that two of its soldiers had been killed and one wounded in a bomb attack on Wednesday in north Baghdad.
Countries around the world condemned the murder of two Algerian diplomats, the charge d'affaires, Ali Belaroussi, 62, and attache Azzedine Belkadi, 47, claimed in an Internet statement by the rebel group al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Egypt, whose envoy to Baghdad was himself kidnapped and murdered earlier this month, also condemned the "atrocious" killing of Algerian diplomats.
In a statement on the Internet on Wednesday, the group controlled by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi said it had assassinated the diplomats because of Algeria's support for the US and failure to impelement Islamic Shariah law.
The Algerian government said a moment of silence would be observed across the country at midday yesterday in memory of the two murdered diplomats.
"I denounce the barbarous act which ended in the killing of the two diplomats by a fundamentalist terrorist group," Zebari told reporters yesterday.
"Their goal is to sever ties between Iraq and Arab and Muslim countries," he said, adding that "we shall avail ourselves of the presence of [US-led] coalition troops to offer diplomats better protection."
Meanwhile, the largest US labor federation, the AFL-CIO, meanwhile called for the rapid return of US troops from Iraq.
"An unending military presence will waste lives and resources, undermine our nation's security and weaken our military," the AFL-CIO stated in a resolution adopted at the federation's convention in Chicago.
The federation also blasted US President George W. Bush for misleading the US public about the war.
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