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Iraq Suffers Bloodiest Day Since Handover of Power - 2004-07-14

Iraq has suffered its worst day of violence since last month's handover of power. At least 10 people were killed in Baghdad Wednesday and several dozen others injured in a terrorist car bombing near the headquarters of the interim government and the U.S. and British embassies. In a separate attack, the governor of Mosul was assassinated in an ambush. Corespondent Nick Simeone has the latest.

Ambulances rush to the scene of Wednesday's Baghdad car bombing, which shattered what had been a relative calm in the Iraqi capital following the handover of power just two weeks ago. North of the city, unidentified attackers ambushed a convoy carrying the governor of Nineveh, killing him and two bodyguards, and prompting authorities there to re-impose a curfew. Insurgents have repeatedly targeted Iraqis who they believe are cooperating with the United States. There was also violence in the Sunni stronghold of Ramadi.

One man said that he was shot by American soldiers who he said where firing into the streets. A U.S. military spokesman in Iraq tells VOA Marines in Ramadi returned fire after they first came under attack, inflicting significant casualties.

At the Pentagon, General David Rodriguez of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters that despite the sudden upsurge in violence, there have actually been some positive developments in Iraq's security situation since the June 28 handover of power.

"Mostly that has been the Iraqi security forces, they have increased their capability and have reached out more and more and are taking on more and more responsibility," he said. "As far as the insurgency and the enemy at this point in time, they have continued their same kind of trends about attacking the Iraqi leadership."

In fact, Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi suspects Wednesday's car bombing was retaliation by those targeted in the stepped up security sweeps which have rounded up hundreds of terror suspects and accused criminals.

"This is naked aggression against the Iraqi people," said Mr. Allawi. "We will bring the criminals to justice. We think and believe this is in response to the recent arrests in the last two days."

Interim President Ghazi al-Yawar says it may take up to a year to bring security to the country. If true, that could pose a problem for Iraq's first free elections of the post Saddam Hussein era, which are set to take place in January.

Meanwhile, the Philippines became the latest member of the U.S.-led military coalition to begin pulling its troops out of Iraq. The move is in response to threats made by Islamic militants to execute a Philippine hostage. The decision has drawn a strong reaction from the United States, which is suggesting it could adversely affect U.S. Philippine relations.

On Tuesday, a Bulgarian truck driver was executed by militants believed linked to accused Jordanian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The group is now threatening to execute a second Bulgarian, but the Bulgarian government says it has no intention of withdrawing its 470 troops in Iraq.