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More Violence Rips Baghdad, as News Awaited on Hostage - 2004-07-19

At least nine people were killed and as many as 60 others wounded following the bombing of a police station in southern Baghdad. Elsewhere in the capital, gunmen assassinated a senior defense ministry official near his home late Sunday. Meanwhile, the Philippines waits to see if kidnappers release a Filipino hostage. This time, it was a suicide truck bomber, and the target was familiar, behind a police station in al-Dora, in Baghdad's southern Al-A'alam district. The blast was so powerful that it left a crater three-meters deep, and caused heavy damage to the police station.

Crowds of people began to gather, chanting pro-Saddam Hussein slogans. Police had to fire their guns in the air to disperse the crowd.

Police stations are a favorite target of militants in Iraq, who claim police are collaborating with occupation forces. Such stations had been attacked almost exclusively with car bombs.

Less than an hour later, a mortar round smashed into a house in central Baghdad. No one was injured. It is believed the target was a nearby fire station.

Also on Monday, Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi officially named ambassadors to 43 countries, as Iraq begins the process of re-integrating itself into the international community.

Accompanied by several key ministers in the interim government, the prime minister was set to head to Jordan for meetings with King Abdullah.

Mr. Allawi is traveling to several neighboring Arab states to, among other things, discuss Iraq's internal security and ask Iraq's neighbors to help prevent insurgents from entering the country through Iraq's porous borders.

Meanwhile, the Philippines removed the remainder of its 51 peacekeepers from Iraq, but the fate of Filipino hostage Angelo de la Cruz remained unknown.

The 46-year-old truck driver and father of eight was kidnapped last week. His captors threatened to behead him, unless the Philippines pulled its troops out of Iraq.