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Bombings Kill at Least 19 in Iraqi Capital

Iraqi police say at least 19 people have been killed in two bombings in the capital, Baghdad. Edward Yeranian reports for VOA from Cairo.

Iraqi police say at least a dozen employees of the Iraqi Trade Ministry were killed when a roadside bomb exploded near a passenger bus transporting them to work.

A second explosion took place less than an hour later, when a female suicide bomber blew herself up at a checkpoint leading into Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone. Five people, including two members of the Iraqi army, were killed in the blast. Officials say at least 12 people were wounded.

In a third explosion, a roadside bomb apparently targeting an Iraqi police patrol reportedly killed one person and wounded five others.

The Green Zone houses Iraq's parliament, the U.S. Embassy and several Iraqi government offices.

Iraq's parliament has been debating a new military pact with the United States at quarters inside the Green Zone.

Sargent Chris Stagner, a spokesman for U.S. military forces in Baghdad, called the acts a despicable attempt to strike fear into the hearts of Iraqis and negatively affect their quality of life.

The bombing at the Green Zone checkpoint had by far the most political impact of the three explosions, with Iraqi intelligence services coming under attack at their heavily manned checkpoint, just dozens of meters from their headquarters.

The last time the Green Zone came under attack was on October 7th, when two separate explosions, just outside the Zone wounded a handful of civilians and an Iraqi soldier.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki says that a vote by parliament not to approve the new three-year U.S.-Iraqi military pact would have the undesired consequences of forcing coalition forces to withdraw at the end of their December 31 U.N. mandate.

Mr. Maliki says that he is asking parliament to vote to approve the new U.S.-Iraqi military pact because the alternative, a sudden U.S. withdrawal, would have undesirable consequences and would probably not be in Iraq's best interests.

The Iraqi parliament is scheduled to vote on the new military pact on Wednesday, amid attempts to obstruct approval by radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and his 30-member parliamentary block, along with a coalition of Sunni Arab and secular groups.

Analysts say attempts to postpone debate of the new accord could disrupt the process entirely, or force the debate to continue until year's end. They say the annual Islamic pilgrimage, or Haj, begins around December 7, and many top Iraqi politicians will leave for Saudi Arabia, soon, paralyzing all political business.