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Bomb targets Iraqi education ministry

2004-11-02 15:41:14
Tuesday 15:42:04
November 02 2004

Bomb targets Iraqi education ministry

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A suspected car bomb has exploded outside the education ministry in central Baghdad, killing at least five people, while another blast near the Abu Ghraib prison killed four.

A ministry official, who asked not to be named, said about 20 people had been killed or wounded, in the first explosion.

The blast in the Iraqi capital’s Adhamiya district on Tuesday badly damaged the ministry building and destroyed half a dozen vehicles. Smoke poured from the building as firemen fought a blaze sparked- by the blast.

An Iraqi journalist told Aljazeera that the driver of the explosives-laden vehicle could not reach his target due to high security procedures including checkpoints.

The car then exploded a distance away from the ministry, the journalist said.

The body of one elderly man lay in the street on fire. Two of the dead were women.

The bomb exploded in a side street, close to a wall of the ministry building, at about 9.30am (0630 GMT).

Water from burst mains also flooded the streets.

Parents of children at a nearby girls' school raced to the scene in panic searching for their daughters. There were no reported casualties at the school.

US troops and Iraqi National Guards arrived later as American helicopters clattered overhead.

Neighbours said they had urged the ministry's security officials in the past to block off the side street where the bomb went off. "They didn't listen to us," said one man.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, the latest of many bombings since last year's US-led invasion.- 

Abu Ghraib- blast
A second- bomb targeting an Iraqi National Guards patrol near the Abu Ghraib prison- killed four people,- Aljazeera has learned.- 

Twelve others, mostly citizens on their way to the prison to visit detained relatives, were- injured.- 

A National Guard who was in the convoy but was not hurt said US helicopters had taken away a dozen casualties.

Falluja strikes
The blast came after a night of US bombardment of the Iraqi city of Falluja.

Officials at Falluja General Hospital said early on Tuesday that- six injured had been brought in- overnight.

The latest wave of shelling occurred as American troops continued preparations for a major offensive against the city, a- mainly Sunni settlement about 65km west of Baghdad, which has been- resisting- US-led control.

The order to launch the assault must come from Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who warned on Sunday that his patience with negotiations was wearing thin.

Allawi has given no deadline for an attack on Falluja but has insisted that the city must hand over foreign fighters and permit government forces to assume responsibility for law and order.

Mosul blast
In the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, a car bomb targeted the convoy of an Iraqi National Guards official, Major General Rashid Flayih.

Flayih, who was on his way to the service's headquarters at 10.45am (0745 GMT), escaped unhurt.

Seven of his bodyguards were injured in the explosion that also destroyed a vehicle in the convoy.

Cameraman killed
Elsewhere, an Iraqi cameraman working for Reuters was shot dead during clashes in Ramadi on Monday.

Dhia Najim, a 57-year-old freelance video cameraman, was apparently shot dead by a sniper while on assignment for the London-based news agency, a Reuters correspondent in Baghdad said.

It was unclear whether the sniper had been an armed anti-US fighter or an American soldier.

The US military is known to have stationed snipers in Ramadi as it fights to restore order to the lawless city, 100km west of Baghdad.

The US military confirmed that a cameraman working for a "major news agency" had been caught in clashes between US troops and armed fighters.

The video camera found on Najim showed pictures of previous attacks on US-led troops, the military said.

Troop increase
Expectations of a two-pronged assault on the twin cities of Falluja and Ramadi are rising as the interim government vows to crush anti-US forces ahead of elections promised by January.

Since mid-October, US troops have encircled Falluja, where the military has repeatedly launched air strikes and limited ground incursions, killing scores of people, including civilians.- 

US forces- are currently doubling their troop strength to 2000 in Ramadi.

Aljazeera + Agencies

Source by Reuters

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