baghdad bomb 224.88.
(photo credit: AP)
Four Iraqi civilians were killed and eight others were wounded Thursday after a parked car bomb exploded near a line of cars waiting to fill their tanks at a gas station, police said.
The explosive device was lodged in an empty car, parked about 100 meters from the station in Baghdad's southeastern area of Zafaraniyah. Several vehicles were damaged in the 7:15 a.m. blast, according to the police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.
The deadly attack came a day after a daring ambush of bombs and gunfire left Poland's ambassador pinned inside a burning vehicle before being pulled to safety and airlifted in a rescue mission by the embattled security firm Blackwater USA. At least three people were killed, including a Polish bodyguard.
Wednesday's attack - apparently well planned in one of Baghdad's most secure neighborhoods - raised questions about whether it sought to punish Poland for its contributions to the US-led military force in Iraq. But Poland's prime minister, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said his nation would not retreat "in the face of terrorists."
The Iraqi foreign ministry denounced the attack, calling it a cowardly "criminal assassination attempt" aimed at "damaging the strong relations between Iraq and Poland."
The diplomatic convoy was hit by three bombs and then attackers opened fire in the Shiite-controlled Karradah district. Polish guards returned fire as the injured ambassador, Gen. Edward Pietrzyk, was pulled from his burning vehicle. At least 10 people, including four Polish security agents, were wounded.
US Embassy officials dispatched Blackwater helicopters to evacuate the ambassador and others. Blackwater was not involved in protecting the Polish convoy.
Pietrzyk, who was commander of ground forces in Poland before taking the ambassador post in April, suffered minor burns over 20 percent of his body, including his head and right arm and leg, said Polish Charge d'Affaires Waldemar Figaj.
"They were waiting for us," Figaj told The Associated Press as he gave details of the attack.
Poland, a staunch US ally, contributed combat troops to the 2003 US-led invasion and has since led a multinational division south of Baghdad. About 900 Polish troops remain in the country training Iraqi personnel; 21 Poles have died during the conflict.
Last year, the Polish government extended its mission in Iraq until the end of 2007, but has made no decision on next year.
Two Iraqi passers-by also were killed in the 10 a.m. blasts, according to an Iraqi police official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.
A Polish security guard, Bartosz Orzechowski, 29, died at the hospital, said Poland's Interior Minister Wladyslaw Stasiak. The slain guard had been employed by the service since 2004.
Authorities at the scene confiscated an Associated Press Television News videotape that contained scenes of the wounded being evacuated.
US military spokesman Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl told the AP Thursday morning he had checked with American soldiers who were at the scene and the US military did not take the tape. He called back later and said he had discovered in further checks that the tape was in the hands of the US military and would be returned to AP shortly.
The camera operator said he was handcuffed and detained by the US troops at the scene for 40 minutes. He said he was kept inside an American Humvee then released. He said the Americans took the tape but returned his camera upon his release.
The Iraqi government passed a law earlier this year making it illegal to video tape or photograph the aftermath of attacks and bombings.
Also Thursday, the military said that US and Iraqi troops had detained a lawmaker from Iraq's biggest Sunni bloc after he allegedly attended a meeting of suspected al-Qaida in Iraq fighters.
Naif Jassim Mohammed was taken into custody Wednesday during a funeral for one of his neighbor's in Shurqat, about 230 kilometers north of Baghdad, according to Salim Abdullah, a spokesman for the Iraq Accordance Front, an alliance of three parties that have 44 of parliament's 275 seats. He said he didn't know why Mohammed was arrested.
The US military said American and Iraqi troops acting on a tip seized a member of parliament on Sept. 29, but it did not identify the man other than to say he was a "suspected criminal leader."
He was being held for questioning "after being found at a suspected al-Qaida in Iraq meeting," according to a statement.
Lt. Justin Cole, a US military spokesman in Baghdad, said he had no information about a similar raid in Shurqat late Wednesday, and the different time elements could not immediately be reconciled.
The man remained in custody Thursday and officials are reviewing the case, the US military said.