Iraq car bomb kills four

A car bomb exploded on Tuesday at an Iraqi National Guard checkpoint outside the city of Baqouba, killing at least four guardsmen and wounding six others, Iraqi authorities said.

The blast occurred at about 2.30pm in the Kharnabat region just north of Baqouba and was part of an unending wave of attacks against police and national guardsmen, whom insurgents view as collaborators with United States and coalition forces.

“The continued targeting of Iraqi security-force personnel ... undermines the security of all Iraqis and will only quicken the resolve of Iraqi security forces to provide a safe and secure environment,” said Major Neal O’Brien, a US Army spokesperson.

The blast killed four guardsmen, said police Captain Ahmed Shaker.

Earlier on Tuesday, a roadside bomb attack killed a local police chief and another officer in Baghdad, and in the northern city of Mosul, attackers opened fire on a police station, killing one officer and injuring two others before fleeing, officials said.

In other violence, two US soldiers were killed and two others wounded by a roadside bomb late on Monday in Iraq’s capital, while two marines died as a result of a battle on Monday west of Baghdad, the military said. A third marine was killed on Tuesday by non-hostile gunfire, the military said without elaborating.

Associated Press Television News footage from western Baghdad’s al-Washash district showed a destroyed white Iraqi police pick-up truck, its doors smashed and blood splattered across the driver’s seat.

Police, speaking on condition of anonymity, identified one of the dead Iraqi officers as Colonel Mouyad Mohammed Bashar, who was chief of al-Mamoun police station.

A third officer was wounded in the blast, said Zayed Mohammed, a doctor at al-Yarmouk hospital. At the hospital, a bloodied policeman lay on a bed, bandages wrapped around his stomach and leg.

In the northern city of Mosul, attackers opened fire on a police station, killing one officer and injuring two others before fleeing, said police chief Izzat Ibrahim.

From April 2003 to May this year alone, 710 Iraqi police were killed out of a total force of 130 000 officers, authorities said. A truck bomb last Wednesday targeted a police recruiting centre in Baqouba, 60km north-east of Baghdad, where hundreds of job applicants were gathered. It killed 70 people.

Early on Tuesday, militants shot at the offices of interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi’s Iraqi National Accord party in Hawija, about 241km north of Baghdad. The overnight attack caused slight damage to the building, but no casualties, police said.

In northern Iraq, saboteurs bombed a pipeline on Tuesday that sends oil to a local refinery as well as to Turkey for export in the latest attack on the country’s oil infrastructure, oil officials said.

Huge plumes of black smoke billowed into the air from a raging fire on the pipeline near al-Fattah, about 220km north of Baghdad.

“The fires are huge. We have been working since this morning to put it out, but it needs some time,” a source at the Beiji refinery said on condition of anonymity. The source said the pipeline fed the refinery, but also pumped oil to the Turkish port of Ceyhan, the main export line from Iraq’s northern oil fields.

The blast was expected to have little impact on oil exports, since the Ceyhan pipeline already has been idle for weeks due to constant sabotage attacks. In normal times, Iraq exports about 250 000 barrels of oil a day through Turkey from its northern oil fields. The bulk of Iraq’s oil exports flow from its southern oil fields.

Insurgents have repeatedly attacked Iraq’s oil infrastructure in a concerted effort to undermine the interim government and deprive it of money for reconstruction efforts.

A US marine with the First Marine Expeditionary Force was killed in action west of Baghdad, the military said on Tuesday. The marine died of wounds suffered in Anbar province, a volatile, Sunni-dominated region that includes Fallujah, Ramadi and Qaim on the Syrian border while conducting “security and stability operations” on Monday, the military said.

A second marine died on Tuesday of wounds suffered in that attack.

A third marine was killed from a non-hostile gunshot wound that the marines are investigating, the military said.

Their names were withheld pending notification of kin.

In Baghdad, insurgents set off a roadside bomb late on Monday, killing two US soldiers and wounding two more, the military said on Tuesday.—Sapa-AP

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