- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 7, 2005

BAGHDAD — Two suicide car bombers plowed into a foreign security company convoy in the heart of Baghdad yesterday, killing at least 22 persons — including two Americans — in an attack that left a busy traffic circle strewn with burning vehicles, mutilated bodies and bloodied school children.

Nearly 300 people have been killed in insurgent violence since Iraq’s democratically elected government was sworn in last week.

Ending a political deadlock, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said yesterday a deal had been struck and he would submit nominations for six government ministries to the National Assembly for a vote today.

Mr. al-Jaafari had hoped to curb support for the militants by including in his government members of the disaffected Sunni Arab minority, who dominated under Saddam Hussein and are thought to make up the bulk of the insurgency. But Shi’ite leaders have repeatedly shot down candidates advanced by Sunni hard-liners because of ties to Saddam’s regime, which brutally repressed Shi’ites and Kurds.

So far, Mr. al-Jaafari’s Cabinet includes just four Sunni ministers, but alliance lawmakers said yesterday the Sunnis would get three more ministries and a deputy prime minister’s slot.

They include the key defense ministry, which will go to Saadoun al-Duleimi, said alliance lawmaker Nassar al-Rubaie.

Mr. al-Duleimi is a former army lieutenant colonel who left Iraq in 1984 and lived in exile in Saudi Arabia until the fall of Saddam in April 2003. He is described as a moderate with family ties in Anbar province, the homeland of the insurgency.

Abid Mutlag al-Jubouri, a former major general in Saddam’s army who rose to prominence during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, is slotted as the Sunni deputy prime minister.

The oil ministry will go to Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum, a Shi’ite who held the post in the former U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council, Shi’ite lawmakers said. Mihsin Shlash, an independent Shi’ite lawmaker, is expected to be electricity minister.

Mr. al-Jaafari declined to confirm any of the names, but said they have already been approved by President Jalal Talabani and his two vice presidents.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military said the two suicide attackers crashed their explosives-packed cars into a three-vehicle convoy in Tahrir Square, known for its shops and a large statue of Iraqi soldiers breaking through chains to freedom.

At least 22 persons were killed, including two Americans, who were employees of the company that owned the targeted SUVs. Three other American civilians were injured in the attack, the embassy said. Hospital officials said at least 36 Iraqis were wounded in the blasts.

Rescue workers lifted injured schoolgirls onto stretchers, including one with bandages wrapped around her neck and blood streaming down her legs.

Elsewhere, a U.S. Marine was killed by a bomb in Karmah, 50 miles west of Baghdad, the military said. As of Friday, at least 1,592 members of the U.S. military had died since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

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