iraq's fake elections humiliating george bush, day

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    Baghdad governor assassinated

    Five US soldiers among 25 killed in suicide bombings, clashes

    BAGHDAD: Gunmen killed Baghdad’s governor in Iraq’s highest-profile assassination in eight months and a suicide bomber killed 11 people at a police checkpoint on Tuesday in an escalating campaign to wreck the January 30 election.

    The shooting of Governor Ali al-Haidri in a roadside ambush showed insurgents’ power to strike at the heart of the governing class, raising fresh doubts as to whether security forces can protect politicians and voters as the ballot draws near.

    A group led by al-Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi claimed responsibility for the assassination, saying its fighters had struck down a "tyrant and American agent". The group said it was also behind the suicide bombing.

    Three other people were also killed in the carefully planned ambush of governor Ali Radi al-Haidari, the interior ministry said. Another 25 people, including five US soldiers, died in other violence as rebels pressed their campaign to derail the January 30 polls.

    Insurgents also killed three US soldiers in a roadside bomb attack in Baghdad; another soldier in a bomb blast in Balad north of the capital; and an American Marine in western Iraq. The attacks brought the number of the US military and Pentagon personnel killed in action since the start of the war in 2003 to 1,053. Including non-combat deaths the toll is 1,338.

    In a fresh sign of political divisions over the election, the Iraq’s president urged the United Nations to look into whether the country should hold the polls as scheduled even though other officials have vowed to stick to the timetable.

    Haidri’s assassination took place hours after a bomber rammed a fuel truck into a roadblock near Baghdad’s Green Zone, home to the Iraqi government and the US and British embassies. The vehicle went up in a giant fireball that rocked the capital. The blast killed eight police commandos and three civilians and wounded 60 people, bringing fresh scenes of bloodshed to Baghdad’s streets a day after 17 security men died in a string of ambushes and explosions across the country.

    "A lion from the martyrs’ brigade of the al-Qaeda Organisation for Holy War in Iraq attacked a security headquarters in Baghdad’s Qadissiya area, causing many casualties," said a statement posted on an Islamist Web site. The attacks were the latest in a drive by Sunni insurgents trying to force out the US-led forces, cripple the American-backed interim government and scare voters away from the polls. Iraqi leaders say guerrillas also want to provoke sectarian civil war. Voicing sadness at Haidri’s assassination, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said: "It once again shows that there are murderers and terrorists and former regime elements in Iraq that don’t want to see an election. "They want to go back to the tyranny of the Saddam Hussein regime and that is not going to happen," he told a news conference in Thailand.

    Haidri and one of his bodyguards were killed when gunmen opened fire on his car in western Baghdad, police sources said. He was the most senior official assassinated in the city since the head of the then Governing Council was killed last May. Tuesday’s powerful explosion hit a roadblock near the police commando headquarters on the outskirts of the Green Zone. The choice of targets again showed the vulnerability of Iraq’s new security branches, which have gained a reputation for ineffectiveness even as they undergo crash training to take over eventually from American-led forces.

    A roadside bomb blew up near a convoy of American four-wheel drive vehicles near the northern town of Baquba, killing three National Guards in an escort vehicle, police said. Four security contractors, three Britons and an American, were killed on Monday in a bombing in Baghdad, a Western diplomat said.

    Five civilians were also killed in a car bombing near Balad. North of Baghdad, a Turkish truck driver were killed near Baquba; three Iraqi soldiers, three commandos and two civilians died around Samarra and an insurgent was killed in a firefight in Duluiya. In the southern town of Amara, a Shia cleric was gunned down, the day after one of his colleagues was shot dead. In Ramadi, west of Baghdad, a policeman was killed and his body dumped with a paper stuck on it warning those who "spy for occupation forces," police said.

    Hundreds of Sunni Muslim clerics, politicians and notables warned in a meeting on Tuesday that holding the ballot on time would marginalise the Sunnis and risk civil strife.The New York Times said.

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