BAGHDAD, Iraq – A suicide bomber rammed his car into a convoy carrying the Iraqi justice minister to work Saturday in Baghdad. The official was not hurt, but five of his bodyguards were killed.
A U.S. soldier and at least five other Iraqis, including a police chief, were also killed in violence throughout the country.
Meanwhile, the new U.S. ambassador, John Negroponte, disputed suggestions that a proposed amnesty for Iraqis who have opposed the U.S. occupation could include those who have killed U.S. soldiers. Negroponte said he supported the idea of an amnesty but was “not aware there is any provision for any amnesty for those who killed U.S. soldiers.”
“There may have been at one point some language that was ambiguous and led to the interpretation that somehow people would be given amnesty who assaulted U.S. troops,” he said. “My understanding is that ambiguity is no longer there.”
Al-Qaida-linked militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for the Baghdad car bombing as well as another suicide bombing earlier in the day.
Iraqi officials had expressed concern that a wave of violence might occur Saturday, the anniversary of a coup that brought the Baath Party to power in 1968. Saddam Hussein, who was vice president at the time, formally became president in 1979.
The attack against the justice minister, Malek Dohan Hassan, came shortly after he left his house in a suburb of Baghdad. Witnesses said a car raced into the convoy of vehicles accompanying Hassan, striking a Toyota sport utility vehicle and killing the five bodyguards.
In the earlier suicide attack, Iraqi troops stopped a car at a checkpoint in Mahmudiyah, 20 miles south of Baghdad, after becoming suspicious and shot at the driver, who set off the blast 15 yards from the building. Two people were killed and 47 wounded, hospital officials said.
The U.S. soldier who was killed Saturday died when a roadside bomb exploded under a military convoy as it traveled near the town of Baiji, north of Baghdad.
In Iskandariyah, south of Baghdad, the chief of police was slain in an ambush. In Samarra, north of the capital, gunmen killed the local head of the Iraqi National Party and his father, according to local reports.
The employer of an Egyptian man, Alsayeid Mohammed Alsayeid Algarabawi, held hostage by insurgents told Al-Jazeera television that he would be freed today, days after the company said it had agreed to an insurgent demand to leave Iraq.
Abdul Sattar Ahmed, a member of the Iraqi National Guard, comforts friend Adil Hashim, who was wounded by a car bomb explosion Saturday.