Suicide vehicle blows up at Turkish embassy in Iraq

Driver killed, 4 injured in the explosion about 50 yards from building

October 15, 2003|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

BAGHDAD, Iraq - A vehicle driven by a suicide bomber blew up about 50 yards from the Turkish Embassy here yesterday, killing the driver and slightly wounding at least four people.

At least two of the wounded were inside the embassy. American forces quickly sealed off the area as a small crowd of Iraqi civilians watched.

The bombing, which reduced the vehicle to just its undercarriage, was the third such incident in Baghdad in a week. On Sunday, eight people were killed in an attack on a Baghdad hotel used by members of the Iraqi Governing Council and by many Americans.

On Thursday, a similar bomb killed two Iraqi police officers and six civilians.

The explosion came amid widespread opposition in Iraq to the possibility that Turkey will deploy troops in the country as part of a peacekeeping force sought by the United States.

Turkish troops opposed

Turkey's Parliament has approved a government request to send in 6,000 to 10,000 troops, but the move is opposed by the Iraqi Governing Council and Iraq's Kurdish minority.

Kurds in particular fear that neighboring Turkey is seeking to dominate their territory.

In Ankara, a Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman was reported as saying that the incident showed "how grave the security situation in Iraq is" and "how strong the need is for everyone to immediately contribute to ensure security and stability in the country."

In Karbala, a major Shiite religious center, a standoff continued yesterday at two mosques after members of a party led by the 30-year-old Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr tried to take them over Monday night, military officials said.

Iraqi police officers and armed paramilitary shrine police countered the attempt. At least one person died, but it was not immediately clear from which side. Several people were wounded.

Coalition forces from Bulgaria and Latin America were called in by the Iraqi police and cordoned off the mosques, not allowing anyone to enter or leave.

Sadr, whose forces have clashed with American soldiers, proclaimed his own government in Iraq last week.

The incident is the first serious hint of Shiite factionalism, the first time that it appears that Shiites are fighting each other openly for control of holy sites.

It seems that Sadr, a young, aggressive cleric, is trying to galvanize the Shiite population against the occupation, but it is not clear that he is getting much support.

3 more U.S. deaths

Meanwhile, the deaths of three more American soldiers were reported yesterday by U.S. military officials, a day after three Americans were reported killed in the volatile area north of Baghdad and a roadside bomb in a tiny village narrowly missed a provincial governor on his way to work.

The three deaths reported yesterday were not the result of hostile action. Two soldiers from the 1st Armored Division were killed and one was wounded when their military vehicle collided with a civilian vehicle in the Kadhimya district of Baghdad about 2:30 p.m. local time Monday, the U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

In a separate incident, a 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment soldier was found about 9 p.m. Monday in the Euphrates River in Haditha, 70 miles northwest of Ramadi, the command said.

No other details were released.

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