Truck bombing in Iraq kills four

Possible targets include police station

Baghdad deputy mayor fatally shot

October 29, 2003|By Alissa J. Rubin and David Lamb | Alissa J. Rubin and David Lamb,LOS ANGELES TIMES

FALLOUJA, Iraq - A pickup truck stuffed with explosives blew up near a police station in this flash-point town yesterday, killing at least four people and injuring seven others in the fifth deadly bomb attack in two days.

The blast came as U.S. officials said one of Baghdad's deputy mayors had been assassinated in a drive-by shooting and a 1st Armored Division soldier died in rocket-propelled grenade attack in the capital.

Deputy Mayor Faris Abdul Arzzaq Assam was gunned down outside his home Sunday after returning from Madrid, Spain, where he had attended a conference of donors who pledged funds to rebuild Iraq.

"Faris was ... a visionary, driving force in the effort to institute a new democratic government in Baghdad and Iraq," said Hank Bassford, regional coordinator for the U.S.-led occupation administration, the Coalition Provisional Authority.

A coalition spokesman said he had no information that any suspects were caught.

In the wake of the violence, members of the Iraqi Governing Council again called on the CPA to hand over responsibility for security to Iraqis, saying that tougher measures were needed. The council's security committee met late Monday, after four suicide bombers attacked the Red Cross and three police stations in Baghdad, killing at least 35 people and injuring 224. A fifth attack was foiled as Iraqi police shot and captured the would-be bomber.

It was unclear whether yesterday's bombing in Fallouja was a suicide attack. People on the scene offered conflicting reports about whether the bomber was killed in the blast or walked away from the Toyota before it exploded.

If the latter turns out to be the case, it would contrast with the suicide bombings in Baghdad, which U.S., Iraqi and British officials said were likely carried out by foreign fighters.

Yesterday's violence might have more in common with previous assaults on police stations in the so-called Sunni Triangle north and west of Baghdad, which are widely believed to have been perpetrated by supporters of Saddam Hussein's ousted regime.

In Fallouja, on the Euphrates River about 35 miles west of Baghdad, the newly reconstituted Iraqi police are widely viewed as collaborators with the Americans. They have been attacked repeatedly with rocket-propelled grenades, and in some cases assassinated.

But this was the first car bomb, and Fallouja residents reacted with anger and distress, accusing Americans and Iranians of perpetrating the attack.

"They are criminals, saboteurs, we don't know where they have come from," said Sumaya Jassam Hameed, 57, whose leg was badly cut in the blast. She lay in a bare hospital room, surrounded by upset relatives.

"This is the first bomb of its kind," said Abid Salih Sallum, 39, her son-in-law. "The people of Fallouja accuse the Badr Brigade for this." The Badr Brigade, a Shiite Muslim militia backed by Iran, waged a limited guerrilla war against Hussein's regime.

The precise target of yesterday's blast was unclear because the broad street where the explosion occurred is home to several government facilities, including an electricity station, an Education Ministry building and the police station. The explosion was so powerful it tossed the body of one person onto the roof of a school and scattered metal and flesh nearly 500 yards.

Members of the CPA and Iraqi Governing Council said they believed Monday's bombings were carried out by foreign fighters. Council members advocated stronger security measures and said Iraqis should be allowed to deal with suspects, rather than having to turn them over to the Americans.

Jeremy Greenstock, Britain's special representative in Iraq, told the British Broadcasting Corp. yesterday that fighters, possibly drawn to Iraq from Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Islamic world, appeared to be behind the bombings in Baghdad. He predicted the violence would continue.

"It is going to go on through the winter, probably," he said. "We have to accept that this is a cost and keep going with something that is really worth doing."

Mouwafak Rabii, a member of the council, said he doubted those behind Monday's blasts were supporters of the former regime. "I can not believe someone would kill himself for Saddam Hussein," Rabii said. "These suicide bombers are brainwashed, indoctrinated and definitely coming across the border."

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

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