- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 26, 2005

BAGHDAD — Car bombs killed 10 persons yesterday in Baghdad and elsewhere in central Iraq, while gunmen opened fire on campaign workers putting up posters in the run-up to next month’s parliamentary elections.

Also yesterday, the U.S. military said it has received information that a top aide to the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab Zarqawi, was killed last month in Ramadi. The death of Bilal Mahmud Awad Shebah was confirmed by a close relative and “coalition sources,” the military said.

The violence occurred two days before ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s trial resumes after a six-week break.

The first prosecution witnesses are expected to testify before the five-judge panel, offering accounts of the deaths of more than 140 Shi’ite villagers after an assassination attempt against Saddam in the town of Dujail in 1982.

If convicted, Saddam and his seven co-defendants could be sentenced to death by hanging.

Six persons were killed and 12 wounded when a suicide car bomber struck in Samarra, 60 miles north of Baghdad, police Lt. Col. Mahmoud Mohammed said.

Four other persons died when a car bomb exploded in western Baghdad as two armored cars passed by, according to police Lt. Thaer Mahmoud. Nobody in the convoy was injured, but one of the armored cars was damaged and removed by U.S. forces, Lt. Mahmoud said.

More than 270 people have been killed since Nov. 18 in car bombings and suicide attacks in Iraq.

Elsewhere, the U.S. military said a serviceman assigned to the 2nd Marine Division was killed Friday when a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle in Hit, 85 miles west of Baghdad.

In a dispatch from Kirkuk, Agence France-Press news service quoted a police chief as saying yesterday that they had smashed an al-Qaeda-linked cell plotting an imminent assassination of the chief judge at Saddam’s trial.

“We arrested 12 members of a cell linked to the Iraqi branch of al Qaeda during a dawn raid on a house in eastern Kirkuk,” AFP quoted Col. Anwar Kader as saying.

“They confessed during questioning to planning to kill [chief Judge] Raed al-Juhi this week,” he told AFP.

Judges in the trial are living under heavy guard in Baghdad’s green zone, which is encircled by a concrete wall and protected by U.S. forces.

Also yesterday, gunmen opened fire on four persons as they pasted campaign posters for the biggest Shi’ite party on walls in western Baghdad, killing one person and wounding three, police said.

In the northern city of Mosul, gunmen fired on members of the Iraqi Islamic Party, the country’s largest Sunni Arab political movement, while they were putting up campaign posters. One person was wounded, police said.

A statement posted on an Islamist Web site in the name of al Qaeda in Iraq also claimed responsibility for killing a Kurdish election volunteer in Mosul.

The U.S. military said the Zarqawi aide, also known as Abu Ubaydah, was killed Oct. 14 in Ramadi, a center of the Sunni Arab-led insurgency 70 miles west of Baghdad.

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