A pair of car bombings killed a U.S. soldier and 12 Iraqis on Sunday and gunmen assassinated a senior Education Ministry official. The attacks continued a wave of violence against the U.S. occupation and Iraqis who cooperate with it as the June 30 transfer of power approaches.
Three rockets were fired into the heavily guarded compound where U.S. authorities live and work in downtown Baghdad. A senior U.S. military official said that only one of the rockets detonated, causing minor damage and no deaths or injuries. But the blast, heard by Iraqis through much of the city during morning rush hour, underlined the city's lack of security.
About 15 vehicles rigged with explosives, some driven by suicide bombers, have been sent against U.S. occupation and Iraqi government targets so far this month, U.S. military officers said -- an average of at least one car bombing a day somewhere in Iraq.
The bombings were among a variety of violent engagements, occurring at the rate of 35 to 40 a day, in a campaign designed to demonstrate a lack of U.S. and government controlin the days leading to the restoration of Iraqi sovereignty on June 30, the officers said.
As the attacks persisted in Baghdad Sunday, a senior spokesman for the insurgent Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr said in Najaf that Sadr intends to "found a party to participate in political events." The spokesman, Qais Khazali, did not say whether Sadr also intends to disband his militia, the Mahdi Army, and abandon his military resistance to the U.S. occupation.
The suggestion of a political organization was in line with intense efforts by Shiite religious and political figures to persuade the young cleric to end his military challenge and turn instead to politics.
Despite a declared U.S. determination to force Sadr to stand trial on charges that he conspired in a fellow cleric's murder, these Iraqi Shiite leaders repeatedly have said that the solution to the Sadr crisis is to draw him into the political process and that confrontation can lead only to more bloodshed.
[Violence continued Monday as a car bomb exploded during the morning rush hour on one of central Baghdad's most heavily traveled streets, the Associated Press reported. Dozens were said to be wounded, and at least one body was removed from a building destroyed by the blast, according to the AP.]
The first car bombing on Sunday, which took place in the eastern part of the capital as Iraqis drove to work in a morning traffic jam, killed four policemen and eight civilians, the U.S. military said. Witnesses told reporters that an Iraqi police patrol tried to stop the vehicle as it sped toward Camp Cuervo, but it crossed the median and detonated in a suicide attack, demolishing the police car.
The second bombing, which came later Sunday near the northern suburb of Taji, killed one U.S. soldier, who was not identified, and wounded two others, spokesmen reported.
The assassinated Education Ministry official, Kamal Jarrah, 63, was responsible for cultural relations with foreign countries and the United Nations. Gunmen shot him as he left for work from his home in the Ghazaliya district, police said.
Jarrah was the second high-ranking government professional to be killed by gunfire in the last two days. Assassins killed Deputy Foreign Minister Bassam Salih Kubba, a career diplomat, in a hail of gunfire Saturday as he drove away from his home on the way to work.
The killings appear to be aimed at frightening away Iraqis who take part in the U.S.-supported interim government and its institutions, particularly the police and armed forces but also including universities. With government ministers and senior officials increasingly restricted to life behind concrete barriers and a U.S. security belt, the killings have begun to descend the official hierarchy to lower-ranking officials with less protection.
Iraqi police reported Sunday that Sabri Bayati, a professor who headed the geography department at Baghdad University, was shot and killed by unknown gunmen as he left the campus. Amer Nayef Hiti, who teaches in the university's language department, said a number of professors had received written threats from unknown people warning them that if they continued teaching, they would be killed.
In Baqubah, 35 miles to the northeast, the dean of Diyala University, Khosham Atta, escaped injury when gunmen shot at his car as he went to work.
In northern Iraq overnight, four gunmen broke into the house of Iyad Khorshid, a Kurdish religious leader, and killed him, the Reuters news agency reported. Khorshid had condemned violence against occupation forces.
"These random, senseless acts of violence only prove that anti-Iraqi forces have no regard for the people of Baghdad or the future of this country," said Lt. Col. James Hutton, a spokesman for the 1st Cavalry Division based at Camp Cuervo. "The Iraqi people will not be denied their future or their freedom."