- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 6, 2004

BAGHDAD — A car bomb outside an American base killed nine persons yesterday and injured 30 others — including three U.S. soldiers — and insurgents blasted Iraqi police stations in a Shi’ite neighborhood of Baghdad and in a town south of the capital. A U.S. soldier was killed in a mortar attack.

One of the police stations — in Baghdad’s Sadr City neighborhood — was blown up yesterday after insurgents raked the building with gunfire, ordered Iraqi police to leave and planted and detonated explosives. Two explosions were heard last night in central Baghdad, but the location and cause could not be determined.

Meanwhile, a U.S. security company confirmed yesterday that four of its employees — two Americans and two Poles — were killed Saturday in an ambush on the main road to the Baghdad airport. The company, Blackwater USA, lost four employees in an ambush in March in Fallujah that triggered the bloody three-week siege of the restive Sunni Muslim city.

In London, the British Foreign Office reported that a British security contractor was killed and three colleagues were wounded in a drive-by shooting Saturday in the northern city of Mosul. The four worked for ArmorGroup, a security firm with 1,000 employees in Iraq protecting official buildings and companies.

The car bombing occurred at the gate of the Taji air base, a former Iraqi air force facility used by the U.S. Army about 12 miles north of Baghdad. Ambulances, Humvees and Iraqi police rushed to evacuate the injured, while American troops secured the area.

Meanwhile, the U.S. command reported that an American soldier was killed yesterday morning and another wounded in a mortar attack on the 13th Corps Support Command base near Balad north of Baghdad.

Later yesterday, gunmen attacked the Karama police station in Sadr City, the scene of clashes between the Americans and fighters loyal to radical Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The assailants ordered police to file out of the blue-painted single-story building, rigged it with explosives and detonated the charges, engulfing the building in a cloud of smoke.

In a similar attack, eight persons disguised as police entered a police station late Saturday in Musayyib, about 45 miles south of Baghdad, and fatally shot seven officers before blowing up the building.

U.S. and Iraqi officials said they were uncertain who was behind the attack, which occurred in a mixed Shi’ite-Sunni area along the Euphrates River.

Also yesterday, a vehicle carrying a crew from the Arabic-language satellite television broadcaster Al Jazeera was attacked by five gunmen near Iskandariyah south of Baghdad, the station said. The team managed to escape unharmed after a 20-minute chase.

Late yesterday, a roadside bomb exploded in Ramadi, a Sunni city west of Baghdad, killing two policemen and injuring six others, police Capt. Zyad al-Juburi said.

The ambush along the airport road was the latest in a series of attacks against civilian contractors, who provide security for private companies in Iraq. The attacks have complicated the task of rebuilding Iraq after decades of war, economic sanctions and Saddam Hussein’s tyranny.

A company official in Baghdad, speaking on condition of anonymity, said gunmen opened fire with automatic weapons as the security guards were en route to the airport to pick up a client.

Four men in one vehicle died on the spot. Three others in a second vehicle flagged down a passing car and escaped.

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