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 April 4, 2005
World News
Suicide bomber blows himself up in second attack in three days near Abu Ghraib prison
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- A suicide bomber driving a tractor blew himself up Monday in the second attack in three days near the infamous Abu Ghraib prison.

An attack Saturday killed one militant and wounded 44 American troops, 13 prisoners and about 50 insurgents, the U.S. military said.

Monday�s bombing killed the attacker and injured four civilians, police said. It was not immediately clear whether the suicide bomber was targeting the prison on the western outskirts of Baghdad.

An Iraqi police official, 1st Lt. Akram al-Zubaeyee, said vehicle exploded near the prison�s gate. U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Guy Rudisill said a blast was heard, but he had no details on the incident.

Abu Ghraib was at the center of a prison abuse scandal last year after photographs became public that showed U.S. soldiers humiliating Iraqi inmates sexually, including having them pile naked in a human pyramid. The United States is holding 10,500 prisoners in Iraq, nearly 3,500 of them at Abu Ghraib.

The U.S. military said Monday about 50 insurgents were wounded in the Saturday attack on Abu Ghraib. On Sunday, the military said 44 U.S. service members and 13 prisoners were also injured.

Seven of the injured Americans were evacuated to a combat support hospital, and 16 others who suffered minor wounds from shrapnel have returned to duty. The military did not provide details on the rest of the injured.

The U.S. military said the attackers Saturday used a car bomb, gunfire, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

The military said insurgents attacked in multiple locations at the same time, focusing on two guard towers and then using a car bomb to try to penetrate a gate. Attackers failed to enter the prison, and no inmates escaped. Combat helicopters helped push back the attack.

An Internet statement posted late Sunday�purportedly by al-Qaida in Iraq which has claimed responsibility for the attack� said 10 attackers were killed in the operation, including seven suicide car bombers, and two attackers were injured.

The claims could not be independently verified.

The statement said insurgents had done reconnaissance work and gathered intelligence �from our sources among the enemy� before the attack.

In ongoing negotiations to form a new government, officials in the Shiite and Kurdish-led coalitions met Monday to discuss how many deputy prime minister positions would be created, said Ridha Jawad Taqi, a member of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite group.

Lawmakers on Sunday elected Sunni Arab Hajim al-Hassani, Iraq�s industry minister, as their parliament speaker, cutting through ethnic and sectarian barriers that have held up formation of a government for more than two months since the country�s first free elections in 50 years.

�It�s time for the patient Iraqi people to be treated with the dignity that God has given them,� al-Hassani said, accepting his new post.

Sunni Arabs are believed to make up the backbone of the insurgency, and the selection of al-Hassani was seen as a gesture toward the community that was dominant under ousted dictator Saddam Hussein. But some critics said al-Hassani has limited clout in the Sunni community.

Sunni Arabs, who largely boycotted the Jan. 30 elections or stayed home for fear of being attacked at the polls, only have 17 seats in the 275-member National Assembly.

Lawmakers still face difficult choices on Cabinet posts.

On Sunday, they failed again to name a new president�broadly expected to be Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani. That choice and those of two vice presidents were put off until Wednesday.

Lawmakers also have to choose a prime minister, a job that is widely believed to be reserved for Ibrahim al-Jaafari, of the Shiite Muslim majority. After a government is formed, the lawmakers have until Aug. 15 to draft a permanent constitution.

Some lawmakers called for back-to-back meetings this week to start the delayed work on the government. But al-Hassani urged patience, drawing applause from lawmakers when he asked them to pledge their �allegiance to the country and the people, not to the party or the sect or the ethnicity.�

Former nuclear scientist Hussain al-Shahristani, a Shiite, and Kurdish official Aref Taifour were also chosen as deputy speakers of the assembly.


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