- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 10, 2003

BAGHDAD — One Iraqi was killed and 41 persons wounded, including some U.S. defense personnel, in a suspected car-bomb blast in the northern city of Irbil, a U.S. military spokesman said today.

Staff Sgt. Shane Slaughter said the blast went off at 9:05 p.m. yesterday at a building he described as the “state house” in Irbil, but was unable to give any other details of the explosion.

“So far, there are 41 wounded and one confirmed dead,” Sgt. Slaughter said “There were U.S. [Department of Defense] personnel who were injured.”

The wounded included Iraqi Kurdish guards and children from nearby houses.

A Turkish reporter at the scene said by telephone that the building was partly collapsed and that most of the injured were from nearby houses.

The TV footage showed Kurdish women wailing and men running in panic with a burning car behind them. At least one civilian could be seen carrying a wounded child in his arms.

Footage showed the four-wheel-drive vehicle that apparently carried the bomb was intact but extensively burned. Its chassis was in one piece.

Authorities in Irbil, administrative capital of Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq about 200 miles north of Baghdad, called to residents over loudspeakers to donate blood for the wounded, CNN-Turk said.

Elsewhere in Iraq, three U.S. soldiers were injured yesterday when their Humvee hit a mine on the road near Fallujah, 35 miles west of Baghdad, witnesses said. The military confirmed the incident, but said it had no details.

Fallujah is one of the most dangerous places for the occupation force. It sits in the “Sunni triangle,” the area north and west of Baghdad where support for Saddam Hussein remains strong.

The 4th Infantry Division, meanwhile, reported a soldier was seriously injured in a mortar attack Monday near Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad. Division spokeswoman Maj. Josslyn Aberle said she had no other details.

Firefighters yesterday put out a pipeline fire in northern Iraq that had been set by saboteurs a day earlier. It was the fifth such attack on the oil-delivery system in less than a month. The acts of sabotage have shut the export pipeline to Turkey and are costing the country an estimated $7 million a day.

In other developments, Iraq’s acting president yesterday called for Turkey to send up to 10,000 peacekeeping troops under a U.N. mandate, provided they deploy far from Kurdish territory.

Entifadh Kanbar, spokesman for Ahmed Chalabi, the member of the Governing Council’s nine-member presidency who is serving for the month of September, also said Mr. Chalabi had been invited by the Turkish government to pay “a very important visit.”

“We are welcoming the participation of Turkish forces under the United Nations resolution … in the western area in Iraq under the condition that this force should not exceed 10,000,” Mr. Kanbar said, referring to a resolution proposed by the United States.

A Turkish force in Iraq is an extremely sensitive issue because of the large Kurdish population near the Turkish border, where some Kurdish rebels took refuge in the mountains after fighting a 15-year rebellion.

Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said he expects his government to decide this month whether to send in peacekeepers. Parliament would also have to approve the deployment.

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