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Car Bombings Kill Up to 43 in Baghdad

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  • Car Bombings Kill Up to 43 in Baghdad

    Car Bombings Kill Up to 43 in Baghdad

    By ANTONIO CASTANEDA, Associated Press Writer 30 minutes ago

    BAGHDAD, Iraq - Three car bombs exploded near a bus station and hospital in Baghdad Wednesday, killing as many as 43 people and wounding scores in the deadliest attacks in the capital in weeks, police said. Survivors searched charred buses and cars for signs of relatives.

    Another car bomb exploded in Fallujah, killing three people, including two children. One of the children was a girl who appeared to be under 5.

    The violence came as Iraqi politicians resumed negotiations on drafting a new constitution after they missed a Monday deadline but got an extension to finish the document, a key step in the political process the U.S. hopes will bring stability and help end the insurgency.

    The largest Sunni Arab political party criticized the drafting committee, calling it "biased and chaotic" and accusing it of trying to divert discussions away from Sunni objections over federalism, which the minority fears would split the country. A Sunni Arab negotiator complained of "unacceptable demands" being made on his community.

    A suicide car bomber targeting policemen detonated his vehicle outside the Nahda bus station in central Baghdad, one of the city's major transit points, the U.S. military said.

    A second car exploded in the open-air station's parking lot near buses that carry passengers to Amarah and Basra, Shiite-dominated cities in southern
    Iraq, police Capt. Nabil Abdul-Qader said.

    About 30 minutes later, a suicide bomber exploded his vehicle near the Kindi Hospital as many of the wounded were arriving for treatment, police said. It was unclear if the hospital was targeted in the blast.

    Abdul-Qader said 43 people died and 85 were wounded in the attacks.

    The U.S. military gave a lower toll, saying 32 civilians and six policemen had been killed and another 68 wounded.

    "This particular incident, where terrorists deliberately target civilians, emergency responders and hospitals, defines crimes against humanity — period. The Iraqi people have seen once again that the terrorists have no regard for human life," said Col. Joseph DiSalvo, commander of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.

    It was the deadliest series of single-day suicide bombings in Baghdad in weeks, although suicide attacks with far lower death tolls occur here regularly.

    Twenty-five people died in a suicide blast July 10 at an army recruiting center in Baghdad. On July 13 a car bomb in Baghdad killed 27 people, including 18 youths and one American soldier.

    Four suspects were detained at the bus station on suspicion of involvement in the attacks, the Transportation Ministry said.

    Two U.S. soldiers also were killed earlier this week, the military said Wednesday. One was killed Tuesday when a roadside bomb exploded near his patrol in southwest Baghdad and another was killed Monday in an insurgent attack in northern Iraq.

    The Fallujah explosion did not appear to target U.S. or Iraqi troops, detonating in the middle of civilians walking on central Wahda street.

    The Fallujah hospital treated eight injured people, including a young girl who died shortly after arrival, said Dr. Omar al-Ani. The girl suffered leg injuries and received oxygen.

    A short time later, a young man, who appeared to be her relative came close to her and put his hand on her heart.

    "In the name of God," the man said, meaning that she had died.

    Another man covered the girl with a white sheet.

    Separately, President Jalal Talabani has paved the way for the first legal execution in Iraq since the 2003 fall of
    Saddam Hussein, the presidential office said Wednesday. The case involves three unidentified men sentenced to hang for murdering three policemen.

    Any death sentence must be approved by the three-member presidential council headed by Talabani, who previously has voiced opposition to capital punishment. He still refuses to sign the authorization document, but his office said he had authorized one of his vice presidents, Adil Abdul-Mahdi, to do so.

    Abdul-Mahdi signed the order, but it was unclear if the sentence was carried out.

    The Baghdad blasts left several mutilated bodies strewn across the station parking lot and a large plume of black smoke was visible throughout the capital. More than a dozen cars and at least two buses were destroyed, leaving only rows of seat frames inside a bare metal hull.

    Several weeping men hugged beside a young boy inside the open-air terminal. One man searched through the charred buses for signs of his brother and cousin.

    Elsewhere, six new Iraqi soldier recruits heading to a training camp in Kirkuk were killed after gunmen stopped their minibus near Hawija, 30 miles southwest of their destination, Iraqi Army Brig. Gen. Anwar Mohammed Amin said.

    The latest attacks occurred shortly before the leaders of Iraq's political factions met to try to finish the constitution by the new Monday deadline. A Shiite negotiator, Khalid al-Attiyah, said talks were going so well that the document might be ready for parliament Wednesday.

    But the criticism by the Sunni Iraqi Islamic Party, which has members on the committee, indicated that disagreement remained over key issues, including federalism, which could lead to an autonomous Shiite area in the south as well as a Kurdish area in the north.

    "There are some unacceptable demands," said another Sunni negotiator, Mohammed Abed Rabbou. "The (Shiite) coalition is still asking for federalism in southern and central Iraq ... There are some disagreements concerning natural wealth, and none of the groups is giving concessions."

    Any constitution rammed through over objections of the Sunni Arabs could undermine U.S. hopes that the charter would lure members of that community away from the insurgency.

    The Sunni party also insisted that the new constitution affirm the country's Arab and Islamic identity and demanded that Islam be declared a main source in legislation — a measure opposed by Kurds and women's activists.

    Another stumbling block in the constitutional debate was a Kurdish demand for self-determination, which would give them the right to secede.

    On Tuesday, Kurdish leaders said they had no plans to break away from Iraq but they wanted the right enshrined in the constitution.

    If no agreement can be reached this time, the interim constitution requires that parliament be dissolved and that a new transitional assembly and government be elected in December.

    If agreement is reached, Iraqis will vote on the charter in mid-October, leading to elections in December for the country's first fully constitutional government since Saddam was ousted.

    The delay was an embarrassment for the Bush administration, which insisted that the original deadline be met to maintain political momentum and blunt Iraq's deadly insurgency.

    But Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, meanwhile, dismissed reports that the administration has had to lower its expectations about what can be achieved in Iraq.

    "I don't think expectations have been lowered," Myers said in Baghdad during an interview on NBC's "Today" show, with U.S. troops standing behind him. "Our plans are on track."

    hey, if he has a cadre of US troops standing behind him on live TV, I tend to believe what he says.