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Iraqi militants hit ministry, oil, security forces
Updated: 2004-11-03 09:02

Militants bracing for a U.S.-led assault on their Falluja and Ramadi strongholds showed their muscle on Tuesday with a bloody car bombing in Baghdad, strikes on oil pipelines and several attacks on Iraqi security forces.

A morning car bomb blast at the Education Ministry brought fresh carnage to the busy streets of Baghdad, killing six people and wounding eight, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

A US soldier secures the scene of a car bomb attack in Baghdad, November 2, 2004. The blast brought fresh carnage to the streets of Baghdad, killing at least five people, two of them women, at the Education Ministry. [Reuters]
A US soldier secures the scene of a car bomb attack in Baghdad, November 2, 2004. The blast brought fresh carnage to the streets of Baghdad, killing at least five people, two of them women, at the Education Ministry. [Reuters]
"I'm not crying because I'm wounded, but because of my brother. I was with him and I don't know what happened to him," said a weeping Abbas Kadhim, 32, who was hit in the stomach by fragments of concrete as he sat in his car near the ministry.

The blast in Baghdad's mainly Sunni Adhamiya district badly damaged the Education Ministry building and destroyed 31 cars. Flames licked the body of an elderly man killed in the explosion, which scattered body parts across the street.

There was no word on the motive for the bombing, which occurred on the U.S. presidential election day.

With U.S. Marines poised for an onslaught on the rebellious Sunni Muslim cities of Falluja and Ramadi, part of a drive to pacify Iraq before national elections due in January, insurgents seemed bent on showing their power.

Saboteurs mounted the biggest attacks yet on Iraq's oil infrastructure, blowing up four pipelines in the north and halting most exports via Turkey, oil officials said.

Monday night's pipeline attacks also sharply reduced crude supplies to Iraq's biggest refinery at Baiji.

In the northern city of Mosul, a suspected car bomb blew up near an Iraqi National Guard patrol, killing two Guards and wounding four, witnesses and survivors said.

An unknown militant group holding an Iraqi-British woman hostage threatened to turn her over to a group led by al Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi if Britain did not quit Iraq.

Al Jazeera television said on Tuesday it had received a video tape from the group saying it would hand over Margaret Hassan to Zarqawi's group within 48 hours "if Britain does not meet its demands, mainly for the withdrawal of British troops from Iraq."

Zarqawi's group, Al Qaeda Organization of Holy War in Iraq, is blamed for hostage beheadings and the bloodiest suicide attacks.

Zarqawi's group claimed responsibility for the Mosul attack and said in a Web posting that Iraqi interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's battle against insurgents was "an impossible dream."

Roadside blasts and car bombs killed three other members of the security forces and wounded up to a score in the Sunni towns of Samarra, Abu Ghraib and Haditha.

As often, the violence was concentrated in a swathe of mainly Sunni central Iraq, which includes Falluja and Ramadi.

Dhia Najim, a freelance cameraman filming for Reuters, was among 10 people killed in Ramadi on Monday. His colleagues and family said he was shot by a U.S. sniper. The U.S. military said he died in a firefight between Marines and insurgents.

A Marine assault on Falluja in April failed to dislodge insurgents and touched off a kidnapping spree that has seen scores of foreigners abducted in Iraq. More than 35 have been killed.

Zarqawi's group, in an Internet video, showed the beheading of Japanese hostage Shosei Koda as he lay on a U.S. flag. Koda's remains were found in Baghdad on Saturday.

The group warned Tokyo to withdraw its forces from Iraq or "drown in the hell of the mujahideen" along with "crusader forces."

An American, a Filipino and a Nepali were kidnapped by gunmen who stormed their Saudi company's villa in Baghdad on Monday evening. An Interior Ministry spokesman said an Iraqi guard and one of the kidnappers were killed in the shootout.

Two Iraqi guards said on Tuesday they were freed overnight after being abducted along with the foreigners employed by Riyadh-based Saudi Arabian Trading and Contracting Company.

The U.S. military denied an Iraqi police report that insurgents had captured a U.S. soldier in Samarra.

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