Car bomb kills 5, injures Iraqi Minister
A car bomb exploded outside the home of a deputy interior minister Saturday, wounding him and killing at least five people, including four police.
The earlier blast hurled two cars onto the front lawn of the official's house, and police fired shots to disperse distraught bystanders who scuffled with them.
Abdul-Jabbar Youssef al-Sheikhli, the deputy minister in charge of security, was slightly injured in the forehead and right arm, said Hassan Hadi, a Health Ministry official. "I expect he will leave the hospital in a short time," Hadi said.
Al-Sheikhli is a member of the Shiite Muslim Dawa party, which lost a prominent member this week in another fatal car bombing. On Monday, the president of the Iraqi Governing Council, Dawa member Izzadine Saleem, was killed along with at least six other people near the headquarters of the U.S.-run coalition in the capital.
Also Saturday, the military said a U.S. soldier was killed and three others were wounded in an attack on their vehicle south of Baghdad, and a Marine died in a non-hostile incident. It said the soldiers' vehicle was "ambushed by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device" in Mahmoudiyah, 20 miles south of Baghdad. The statement did not say when the attack occurred.
Two of the injured soldiers were evacuated to a combat hospital. The third wounded soldier returned to duty after treatment. All the casualties were from the U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division.
The military also said the Marine, assigned to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, died Friday near Camp Fallujah, west of Baghdad, while "conducting security and stability operations."
In Najaf, south of Baghdad, fighting broke out Saturday between U.S. forces and the militia of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr near the city's police directorate and the governor's office. But there were no reports of fighting in Karbala, another holy city where the two adversaries have engaged in intense battles in recent days.
The blast outside al-Sheikhli's house occurred about 200 yards from the headquarters of the former Iraqi general security service in the Baghdad district of Baladiyat.
Police and U.S. military officers at the scene said the dead included four Iraqi policemen and a female neighbor who died in her home.
U.S. Army Capt. Brian O'Malley of the 1st Cavalry Division, the U.S. Army unit in charge of security in Baghdad, said the blast occurred at about 8:05 a.m. was caused by a "vehicle-borne improvised explosive device."
It was unclear whether the bomb was detonated by a suicide attacker.
Interior Minister Samir Shaker Mahmoud al-Sumeidi visited the site and was mobbed by distraught neighbors who screamed at him to "come and see what happened to our homes."
"God does not accept this," one man shouted.
"It would seem that the criminals do not want the law to prevail or the security men to implement it," he told reporters. "I want every honorable man in this country to condemn this crime."
Minutes before al-Sumeidi arrived, scuffles broke out between police and a crowd that gathered outside the deputy minister's house. Police fired shots to disperse the crowd.
More than an hour after the blast, smoke rose from several wrecked cars, and debris was scattered in the street. The blast hurled two cars through a wall and onto the garden of the deputy minister's house.
There were bloodstains in the two-story house and on the street, as well as outside the second-story windows of nearby houses. Three palm trees in the garden of the deputy minister's home were blackened from the explosion.
"We were expecting this, but what could we do?" said neighbor Khaled Ahmad, whose two sons Omar and Mohammed left the house for school minutes before the blast. "In some ways, we benefited from the presence of so many policemen. But we also knew that something like what happened today was coming."
Ahmad and Faris Dhaher, a retired doctor who lives across the road from al-Sheikhli's house, said there were at least 20 policemen outside the deputy minister's house at any given time. They said al-Sheikhli moved into the house six months ago.
Dhaher's wife, also a doctor, was injured in the arm and nose.
In Baqouba, a town north of Baghdad, the president of Diyala University, Khosham Atta, survived an assassination attempt Saturday when gunmen shot at his car as he went to work, the university said. Atta was unhurt.