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Car bomb kills six in Northern Baghdad
(Agencies)
Updated: 2004-11-02 21:01

A car bomb exploded Tuesday near the Ministry of Education in a busy commercial area in northern Baghdad, killing six people including a woman, according to the Interior Ministry and hospital officials.

A U.S. Army soldier secures the scene of a car bomb attack outside a ministry in the capital Baghdad, November 2, 2004. A suspected car bomb exploded outside the Education Ministry in central Baghdad on Tuesday, killing six people, two of them women. [Reuters]

Meanwhile, kidnappers released two Iraqi guards abducted along with an American, a Nepalese, a Filipino and an Iraqi from the Baghdad compound of a Saudi company on Monday, police and a U.S. Embassy spokesman said Tuesday.

Spokesman Col. Adnan Abdul-Rahman of the Interior Ministry said the 8:45 a.m. car bomb occurred in the northern Azamiyah district.

Al-Nu'man Hospital officials said six people were killed, including one woman. Ten others were wounded, including a 2-year old girl.

The blast detonated near the Ministry of Education offices, according to a ministry employee who refused to give his name.

Most of the employees managed to escape unscathed but the building's guards, who were in the rear of the building, were among the casualties, he said.

The two freed guards, who had been beaten, were left blindfolded and handcuffed in Baghdad's Hay al-Amil area late Monday, said a police officer involved with the investigation on condition of anonymity.

"Don't work with them again or else we'll kill you," the kidnappers told the two men, according to the officer. He said he believed the two were freed because they were from the Fallujah area.

On Monday, assailants stormed the compound of a Saudi company in the upscale Mansour district of western Baghdad and seized the six during a gunbattle. One guard and one assailant were killed during the shootout, police said.

The U.S. Embassy confirmed that an American was abducted but has not identified him.

The six were originally identified as an American, a Nepalese and four Iraqi guards. The U.S. Embassy on Tuesday identified the four remaining captives as an American, a Nepalese, a Filipino and an Iraqi.

The kidnapped Filipino is believed to be an accountant, sources speaking on condition of anonymity said Tuesday. They said Filipino diplomats in Baghdad were trying to verify reports that initially identified the man as Roberto Torrongoy.

The offices where the hostages were abducted is about 500 yards from the home of two Americans and a Briton kidnapped by militants in September. All three were later killed.

The abductees are believed to work for the Saudi Arabian Trading and Construction Company, or Satco. The company caters food and provides food supplies to the Iraqi army and others, a company official said from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Neighbors in the area described seeing several cars filled with gunmen, some blocking the road to the house.

"We heard gunfire. I went outside to see what's going on when a man pointed a machine gun at me and said: 'Get in or else, I'll shoot at you,'" said Haidar Karar, who lives in the neighborhood.

From his house, Karar saw "at least 20 attackers, some masked and some not." He said some were wearing traditional Arab robes and all were carrying automatic weapons.

 

Twelve Americans have been kidnapped or are missing in Iraq (news - web sites). At least three of them have been killed all beheaded in abductions claimed by an al-Qaida-linked group led by Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

More than 160 foreigners have been abducted this year by militants with political demands or by criminals seeking ransom. At least 33 captives have been killed.

The abduction came two days after authorities found the decapitated body of another hostage, 24-year-old Japanese backpacker Shosei Koda. Al-Zarqawi's al-Qaida in Iraq group said it had kidnapped Koda and demanded a withdrawal of Japanese troops from the country.

Al-Zarqawi's group claimed responsibility on Tuesday for Koda's beheading and posted a video on an Islamist Web site of the gruesome death.

The al-Qaida-affiliated group said the Japanese government had offered "millions of dollars" in ransom for Koda's safe return.

"The world should know, from east to west, north to south that al-Qaida is firm on its jihad, God willing, in spite of the Japanese government offering a ransom of millions of dollars," the statement said.

Japanese government officials couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

The latest car bombing occurred as American troops are gearing up for a major offensive against Fallujah, the strongest bastion of Sunni insurgents and located about 40 miles west of the capital.

On Tuesday, the U.S. military reported overnight airstrikes in Fallujah that destroyed a known enemy cache site on the southeast side of the city.

Hospital officials in Fallujah said one person was killed and six others were wounded during clashes. It was unclear whether they were casualties of air or ground attacks.

The order to launch the assault must come from Iraq's interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi who warned Sunday that his patience with negotiations was thinning.

Allawi has given no deadline for an attack on Fallujah. The city fell under insurgent control after the Bush administration ordered Marines to call off their attack against the city in April following a public outcry over reports of hundreds of civilian casualties.



 
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