- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 23, 2005

BAGHDAD — Four car bombs exploded at dusk yesterday, killing at least 23 persons, including sidewalk diners and passengers at a bus station. The coordinated attacks served as a chilling reminder of how potent militants remain in the capital despite around-the-clock American and Iraqi troop patrols.

In all, at least 32 persons were killed across Iraq, including a prominent Sunni law professor assassinated by gunmen. Jassim al-Issawi was a former judge who put his name forward at one point to join the committee drafting Iraq’s constitution. The assassination could be a way to intimidate Sunni Arabs willing to join Iraq’s efforts to create a stable political system.

The U.S. military said three U.S. soldiers were killed a day earlier during combat operations west of Baghdad near the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi. At least 1,727 members of the U.S. military have died since the war began in 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

The first three car bombs — clearly coordinated — went off almost simultaneously only blocks apart in the predominantly Shi’ite neighborhood of Shula, where Mr. al-Issawi was killed only hours earlier.

Two bombs exploded in front of a pair of restaurants, killing at least 11 and wounding 28.

“The body parts of the dead were scattered everywhere, along with fragments of broken glass from nearby shops and the meat from the meals,” said police Maj. Musa Abdul Karim, who was at the scene. “Blood was everywhere.”

The third car bomb exploded when a suicide bomber rammed a nearby bus station, killing at least eight persons and wounding 20, police said.

About 15 minutes later, a suicide car bomber struck an Iraqi army patrol in a nearby suburb, killing at least four bystanders, police said. The dead included a woman and a child. No Iraqi soldiers were among the wounded.

A fifth car bomb targeting a U.S. military convoy missed, killing instead three Iraqis and wounding seven in the northern city of Mosul, officials said.

Four Iraqis also were killed in two roadside bombs and a group of children rode their bicycles over a bomb placed on the ground in Baqouba, northeast of the capital. A 9-year-old boy was killed and two others, ages 6 and 7, were wounded. Mr. al-Issawi’s killing, potentially the most politically significant act of violence since Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari came to office nearly two months ago, marked the first direct attempt to scare moderates away from political participation.

It sent a powerful message to the Sunni Arab community to either boycott involvement in the fledgling government or risk death.

Insurgents bent on starting a civil war to overthrow Iraq’s U.S.-backed government have maintained nearly eight weeks of relentless attacks, killing at least 1,230 persons since April 28, when Mr. Jaafari announced his Shi’ite-dominated government.

Mr. al-Issawi, thought to be 50, was fatally shot, together with his son, according to Abdul Sattar Jawad, editor in chief of al-Siyadah, a daily newspaper for which Mr. al-Issawi was a contributing editor.

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