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Roadside bomb kills 3 Iraqis, U.S. soldier
( 2003-12-06 00:03) (Cnn.com)

At least three Iraqis and a U.S. soldier were killed and 13 others wounded Friday when a roadside bomb hit a passing U.S. military convoy and an Iraqi passenger bus in southeastern Baghdad, a coalition spokesman and an Iraqi police official said.

A U.S. soldier passes a robot inspecting an object on Friday in Baghdad. In the southeastern part of the city, an explosion killed several Iraqis and a GI. [AP Photo]
Those wounded included 11 Iraqis and two U.S. military personnel.

A few kilometers away, a second roadside bomb detonated, slightly injuring a U.S. soldier who returned to duty shortly after, a coalition military spokesman said.

Iraqi Brig. Gen. Thamir Sa'adoon Al Janabi said that the first improvised explosive device detonated as the military convoy passed near the Samari mosque in Baghdad's Jadida neighborhood. A CNN crew on the scene said the blast badly damaged the passenger bus, which was stained with blood.

Witnesses said six Iraqi civilians were killed -- two women and four men -- and more than 20 Iraqis were injured.

The device, placed in the median of the road, exploded around 9 a.m. (1 a.m. EST) as three Humvees passed by, the witnesses said. The blast hit the third vehicle, killing the driver.

Two other soldiers were injured -- one in the shoulder, the other in the leg -- and were evacuated while coalition soldiers and Iraqi police cordoned off the area, the witnesses said.

Baker named personal envoy

U.S. President Bush on Friday named former Secretary of State James A. Baker III as his personal envoy to lead an effort to convince countries to forgive or restructure an estimated US$100 billion in debts owed by Iraq.

"The future of the Iraqi people should not be mortgaged to the enormous burden of debt incurred to enrich Saddam Hussein's regime," Bush said in a written statement.

The Iraqi Governing Council immediately welcomed the announcement and said reducing Iraq's debt is critical to its political transition.

Baker is a longtime Bush family associate, and served as secretary of state in the administration of President George H.W. Bush, the current president's father. He was a Bush campaign point person during the 2000 presidential election recount in Florida.

U.S. raids in Iraq snag insurgents
Overnight raids Wednesday by U.S. forces -- intended to rout out anticoalition insurgents -- netted 63 suspects in towns west of Baghdad, the Coalition Joint Task Force said Thursday.

The troops, from the 82nd Airborne Division, came under attack from rocket-propelled grenades and small arms as they carried out operations northwest of Khalidiyah, about 60 miles west of Baghdad. The forces killed one of the attackers and captured eight.

No U.S. troops were injured.

Acting on a tip from an informant, U.S. forces raided six houses in Husaybah near Iraq's border with Syria, capturing 19 suspects and confiscating small arms, bomb-making materials and a logbook of previous attacks on coalition forces.

The houses were identified as the sites of recent enemy ambushes.

In 24 hours' time, the 82nd Airborne Division conducted 161 patrols, 10 of them with the Iraqi border guard and Iraqi police.

Other developments

Two Japanese diplomats were shot dead in their armored vehicle in Iraq last weekend and not at a roadside stand as reported, officials in Tokyo say. The Japanese Foreign Ministry said Friday the new information came from the United States, refuting an earlier account from a local resident, who said the victims were buying refreshments when they were killed. U.S. officials say they still have no information about who was responsible for the attack, and the investigation is ongoing. 

The president of the Iraqi Governing Council said Iraqis are considering the creation of new military units, possibly to include local militias, to help U.S.-led coalition troops battle insurgents. Asked about a newspaper report that units will be formed from militias of five political parties, Council President Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim said: "Our view depends on the part that can be played by forces to establish security" by militias -- such as the Badr Brigade and the Peshmerga. The Badr Brigade is a militia associated with Hakim's group, the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution. The Peshmerga are Kurdish fighters.

Hakim also addressed concerns about how the national assembly will be chosen. The U.S.-backed coalition and the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council agreed last month on a process that included regional caucuses to select a national assembly, but the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani objected, saying that a direct vote should choose the assembly. Sistani met last week with members of the Governing Council to deliver his misgivings about the process -- and his belief that the new Iraqi constitution should be appropriately Islamic in nature. Since then, coalition officials have said that they intended to stick to the agreement they made with the Governing Council and that discussions about how to implement the plan were ongoing.

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