Six US soldiers died in roadside bombings and a shooting, the military said yesterday, as lawmakers tried to persuade Sunni Arabs to accept federalism provisions in the draft constitution that is due today.
Three of the soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing late Friday near Tuz Khormato, 150km north of Baghdad, the military said. Another soldier was wounded in the blast and evacuated from the site.
One soldier on a patrol was killed yesterday and three others wounded in a blast east of Rutbah, 400km west of Baghdad, the military said. In another roadside bombing, one soldier was killed Saturday and another wounded in western Baghdad.
On Friday a US commander said the number of roadside bomb attacks against US convoys in Iraq had doubled in the past year to about 30 per week. Dozens of bombings, usually detonated by remote control, target US and Iraqi patrols each day.
The military said in a brief statement from Baghdad that one soldier was found dead Friday of a gunshot wound. The military said an investigation was underway and did not say where the soldier was found or if an attack was suspected in the soldier's death.
In the capital, a senior Iraqi Central Bank official, Haseeb Kadum, was kidnapped yesterday outside his home, police 1st Lieutenant Thaer Mahmoud said. The beheaded body of an unidentified woman was found in the violent southern neighborhood of Dora, Mahmoud added.
In northeast Baghdad, four police officers on a patrol were wounded by a roadside bombing late Saturday, police Captain Nabil Abdul Qadir said. Another bomb along a highway killed one civilian yesterday and injured another in Mahmoudiya, about 30km south of Baghdad, police Captain Saad al-Samaraei said.
Police also said two women were injured early yesterday when a mortar fell at the Noor Hospital in northwest Baghdad.
The violence came one day after US and UN diplomats stepped up pressure on Sunni Arabs to accept a new constitution that is due to be presented to parliament today. A top Sunni official said his group would never accept terms that they fear would lead to the division of the country.
Sunni Arabs were to meet yesterday with members of former Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's secular party and the Shiites would confer with Kurds, Iraqi officials said, adding that US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad was expected to attend both sessions.
A parliament session scheduled for yesterday was postponed because many legislators were working on the constitution, said Aref Tayfour, the deputy speaker of the assembly.
President Jalal Talabani predicted Saturday that a draft constitution would be ready by the deadline, and a Kurdish official said the draft would be presented to parliament with or without Sunni approval. Sunni leaders said they would not bow to pressure.
"We will not be subdued and will continue to cling to our stance," Sunni negotiator Kamal Hamdoun said Saturday. "We don't accept federalism ... We don't want federalism. We are confident that federalism means division and federalism cannot be approved at this time."
Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish parliamentarian and member of the committee drafting the constitution, said the Shiites and Kurds had reached a number of agreements and were working to persuade the Sunnis to join them.
Othman cautioned Saturday that "if the Sunnis refuse to accept the agreements, we will present the draft as it is to the National Assembly."