A suicide car bomber in central Baghdad killed at least five Iraqi civilians and a U.S. soldier early Thursday. Two dozen others were reported injured in the blast that occurred near the main U.S. headquarters in the Iraqi capital.
The car exploded as vehicles were lining up at a bridge that leads into the so-called Green Zone, where U.S. military and civilian headquarters are located.
Military officials said a suicide bomber driving a taxi pulled up at the checkpoint leading into the Green Zone and blew himself up.
People in the Iraqi capital said the blast could be heard throughout Baghdad and occurred at about 7:30 a.m. local time.
Several cars were set ablaze as a result of the blast and thick black smoke could be seen for many kilometers.
There was a similar attack in January at another entry point to the Green zone.
Also, just north of Baghdad Thursday, two bombs reportedly destroyed the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in the Iraqi city of Baquba. Several people were wounded.
The PUK is a political organization headed by Jalal Talabani, who is a member of the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council.
The latest attacks came about 12 hours after President Bush appeared on two Arabic television stations - U.S. government sponsored AlHurra and Dubai-based Al-Arabiya - to discuss the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers, an issue that has deeply angered both Americans and Arabs. The president assured the region such abuse would not continue and those responsible would be brought to justice.
He emphasized the acts of abuse were the result of actions taken by a few U.S. soldiers.
"It's very important for the people in the Middle East to realize that the troops we have overseas are decent, honorable citizens," president Bush said. "They care about freedom and peace. They are working daily in Iraq to improve the lives of Iraqi citizens. And, these actions of a few people do not reflect the nature of the men and women who serve in our country."
Mr. Bush said he fully expects people in the region who dislike America to use the issue of prisoner abuse as an excuse to spread their anger. However, the president sought to assure Arabs that the investigative process would be open and that everyone will learn the full truth of the incidents.