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Iraqi Coalition Leader Killied


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Baghdad blast kills Iraq leader

The checkpoint was crowded when the bomb exploded

The current head of Iraq's US-appointed Governing Council has been killed in a car bomb blast near the headquarters of the US-led coalition in Baghdad.

Ezzedine Salim was waiting to enter the compound when the bomb went off at 0530 GMT, killing him and several others.

It is not yet clear whether Mr Salim was the target of what US officials say was a suicide attack.

Iraq's interim foreign minister has vowed that the political process will not be derailed.


The explosion happened at a checkpoint outside the green zone - the sealed-off area where the coalition and the IGC both have their offices.

Our enemies are still there and will do anything to intimidate Iraqis to derail the political process

Hoshyar Zebari

Iraqi Foreign Minister

Several vehicles were destroyed in the blast, which melted the asphalt of the road and sent debris flying over a large area.

"There was a huge crowd at the checkpoint," a security guard at a nearby residential compound told Reuters.

"There were a lot of cars and people on foot standing there and then this massive explosion. I saw body parts everywhere."

Mr Salim, a Shia and member of the Daawa Islamic Party, was the current holder of the rotating IGC presidency.

He is the second council member to be killed since it was set up last July.

Aquila al-Hasimi, one of three women on the IGC, was shot dead last September.

Reacting to the news, Iraq's interim Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said: "This shows our enemies are still there and will do anything to intimidate Iraqis to derail the political process."

Mr Salim's death will "strengthen our resolve to continue the political process...This will not derail the process", Mr Zebari said.

International condemnation was also swift.

The killers of Ezzedine Salim are "enemies of the Iraqi people," British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said on Monday in Brussels.

The bombing took place amid rising violence in Iraq as the United States prepares to transfer power to an Iraqi interim government 30 June.


In southern Iraq, scene of fierce clashes in recent days, there was more fighting overnight as US and Italian forces battled Shia militiamen.

Nine Iraqis were killed in Nasiriya during clashes with Italian troops, hospital officials said.

The Italians were forced to withdraw to their main camp some 10km (six miles) outside the city.

"The situation is extremely unpredictable, we can't be sure what's going to happen from one minute to the next," a spokesman for the Italian military in the town told Reuters.

Defence officials in Rome confirmed that an Italian soldier had died from injuries sustained in the fighting.


In the holy city of Karbala, where US troops are pitted against fighters loyal to the radical Shia cleric Moqtada Sadr, five Iraqis died and more than 30 were injured overnight, hospital sources said.

US military officials say an American soldier was killed and two injured in a gunbattle in a city south of Baghdad on Sunday.

They did not identify the city but said the soldiers were from the Task Force 1st Armoured Division which has been fighting forces loyal to Mr Sadr.

Amid the continuing violence, the US is planning to move some of its forces from South Korea to Iraq, South Korean officials say.

South Korea's foreign ministry said the two governments were currently discussing the details of such a move.

In another development, Britain and the US have decided on a joint plan to speed up the withdrawal of their troops from Iraq by giving Iraqis full control of their army and police force as soon as possible, UK government officials say.

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OHHH Freakin Great!

Without the actual people standing up and helping, this is going to be on hard ass mission. We can still get it done, but if they allow the Syrians/Iraqi's/Alqaida to just waltz about their land we are in for a world of hurt to get this done...

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