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Suicide blast hits near Turkish Embassy in Iraq

Barriers keep bomber's car away from building

U.S. soldiers seal off the area around the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad after Tuesday's blast.
U.S. soldiers seal off the area around the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad after Tuesday's blast.

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A suicide car bomb detonated Tuesday afternoon in the Iraqi capital near the Turkish Embassy, the second such bombing in the past three days.

Like Sunday's bombing near the Baghdad Hotel, security measures kept the bomber from reaching his intended target.

Unlike the hotel attack -- when at least seven other people were killed -- only the bomber died Tuesday, U.S. and Turkish officials said.

Coalition military spokesman Col. Peter Mansoor said the embassy security was increased last week after what he called a walk-in informant delivered information on a possible explosion being planned there.

Three more U.S. soldiers were reported dead Tuesday, bringing the number of Americans killed in Iraq to 331.

Two 1st Armored Division soldiers were killed in a vehicle accident. The third solder, whose body was found floating in the Euphrates River, died of unknown causes; he was with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. Both incidents are being investigated.

In Washington, meanwhile, top Bush administration officials and congressional Republicans stepped up complaints about news coverage of the war, saying national news outlets ignore good news in favor of stories on violence.

"The American people are not getting the full story about the progress we are making in Iraq," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. (Full story)

Demonstration follows bombing

Shortly after Tuesday's bombing, about 50 demonstrators converged on the scene, chanting, "With our blood, with our souls, we will save you, Saddam," referring to deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Iraqi police said they took the leaders into custody.

Concrete barriers absorbed 90 percent of the blast, foiling the bomber, Mansoor said. (Gallery)

Two or three people were wounded, according to differing official accounts. Witnesses said eight people were wounded and two were killed, including the bomber.

Sunday's attack was thwarted by security guards who fired on the bomber when he sped through a checkpoint leading to the alleyway access to the hotel, which houses coalition officials and members of the Iraqi Governing Council. The car exploded 100 yards from the intended target.

No one has claimed responsibility for either bombing. Coalition officials have said they could be the work of former regime loyalists or outside terrorists.

Tuesday's attack, however, could have been the work of someone opposed to the deployment of Turkish troops in Iraq.

Turkey's parliament agreed last week to send troops when asked, a move applauded in Washington but rejected by the Iraqi Governing Council.

Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said in Ankara that the attack was "a reaction to positive developments" in Iraq and not to "Turkey's decision to send troops."

Turkey's relations with Iraq have long been troubled, particularly in the northern areas of Iraq nearer the border with Turkey.

Southeastern Turkey and northern Iraq are the traditional homelands of the Kurds, who are battling the Turkish government for an independent state and part of the governing coalition in Iraq.

Tuesday's blast was the sixth suicide bombing in Iraq since August 7, when a bomb at the Jordanian Embassy in Baghdad killed 10 people.

In addition to the two embassy bombings, an August 19 attack killed veteran U.N. envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 others at U.N. headquarters in Baghdad's Canal Hotel.

That blast was followed 10 days later by a bombing at the Imam Ali Mosque in Najaf that killed Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and at least 83 others.

Eight Iraqi police officers were killed October 9 in Baghdad when a suicide bomber raced past a checkpoint, exchanged fire with the police and detonated the vehicle in a police station's courtyard.

At the United Nations in New York, the United States circulated its third resolution seeking international support for the reconstruction effort in Iraq.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the draft is better but not yet there, and French, Russian and Germany officials promptly proposed amendments. (Full story)

Other developments

• Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division have captured a senior leader of the Ansar al-Islam terrorist group in northern Iraq, a senior Pentagon official told CNN on Tuesday. Aso Hawleri is variously identified by U.S. intelligence as the No. 2 or No. 3 in the organization. The extremist group, which operated in northern Iraq before the war, was suspected of having ties to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

A U.S. soldier guards the area near a fire fueled by spent ammunition on Monday outside the Sadr City district of Baghdad.
A U.S. soldier guards the area near a fire fueled by spent ammunition on Monday outside the Sadr City district of Baghdad.

• Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for large, peaceful demonstrations in support of his declaration of an Islamic state last week. Sadr, leader of a militia called Mahdi's Army, has actively opposed the U.S. presence in Iraq and does not recognize the authority of the coalition or the Iraqi Governing Council. He announced the creation of several ministries at Friday prayers at a mosque in Kufa, not far from the Shiite holy city of Karbala.

• Iraq's oil minister has survived an assassination attempt, Iraqi and coalition officials said Tuesday. The attempt on the life of Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum -- the 48-year-old son of Iraqi Governing Council member Mohammed Bahr al-Uloum -- took place Sunday, according to sources at the Coalition Provisional Authority and Iraqi Oil Ministry. No further details were available. A council member -- Aquila al-Hashimi -- was assassinated in September.

• A U.S. Treasury Department official said the Bush administration believes as much as $3 billion belonging to Saddam's former regime is sitting in Syrian banks, and it is seeking more cooperation from the Syrian government to find and return the money to the Iraqi people. The official said the United States is concerned that remnants of the former regime might be withdrawing money to commit terrorist attacks. (Full story)

CNN's Richard Roth, Jane Arraf, Harris Whitbeck and John Raedler contributed to this report.


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