A car bomb has exploded at a police station in Baghdad killing one police officer and wounding more than a dozen other people. The incident occurred as one U.S. soldier died in a helicopter accident and two soldiers were killed in an bomb explosion in Baghdad.
The car bombing occurred midday Tuesday at the Rasafa police station in western Baghdad, a major police headquarters for the capital.
VOA reporter Selwan al-Naimi, an eyewitness, was thrown across his car by the blast. "I saw many casualties," he said. "People injured, many ambulances, car ambulances, and American helicopters. Humvees came, suddenly."
The station is the headquarters of Baghdad's Acting Police chief, General Hassan al-Obeidi. And it is located across the street from the police academy, where part of Iraq's reconstituted police force is being trained.
The head of the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, Paul Bremer, condemned the latest in a two-week-old wave of terrorist bombings. "Once again the terrorists have shown they will stop at nothing in the pursuit of their aims," said Mr. Bremer. "But they shall be stopped. We will stop them. We shall combat them and we shall overcome them."
Mr. Bremer also offered his condolences to families of the victims of the car bombing last Friday in Najaf that killed more than 80 people, including a senior Shiite Muslim leader, Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim. The Ayatollah was buried Tuesday in Najaf in an emotional ceremony attended by tens of thousands of followers. Mr. Bremer said the coalition is providing arms and equipment to a special force of 400 Iraqis that would guard holy sites.
U.S. military officials say they are due to transfer responsibility for security in the Najaf area to an international force led by Poland on Wednesday. But they add that patrols by U.S. Marines will continue in Najaf city for several weeks.
Meanwhile, U.S. military officials announced that an American soldier died in a helicopter accident Tuesday in Baghdad in which another soldier was also wounded. And they said two American soldiers with a military police brigade died Monday night when their convoy struck an explosive device in southern Baghdad. A third soldier was reportedly wounded.
The latest incidents come as the Iraqi Governing Council announced its first ministerial cabinet as part of an effort to give more authority to new Iraqi leaders.
The cabinet posts were distributed along ethnic and sectarian lines like the Council itself. It contains 13 Shiite Muslim ministers, five Sunni ministers, five Kurds, one Turkoman and one Christian. One member is a woman. The cabinet does not have ministries of defense, information or religious affairs.
Coalition Authority head Paul Bremer underscored that the ministers will answer to the Iraqi Governing Council and not to the foreign advisers he appointed earlier. "The governing council supervises the ministers," he said. "This is an important step forward, as I said, it's a very important step on the path to a fully sovereign Iraqi government. The ministers will have executive authority and they are responsible to the Governing Council."
Mr. Bremer said the coalition authority advisers are already preparing briefing papers for the Iraqi ministers as they assume their posts. The cabinet is to be sworn in Wednesday.