updated 2/13/2006 11:38:34 PM ET 2006-02-14T04:38:34

A suicide bomber blew himself up Monday after joining a line of Iraqis waiting for government checks in a mostly Shiite district of Baghdad, killing 10 people and wounding about 40 — including women and children.

The attack occurred as more than 70 people lined up at a bank to receive government checks to compensate for incomplete food rations. Police said the bomber — who wore an explosives belt — stepped into the line and detonated his explosives as security guards were searching people before letting them in.

Ten people were killed and at least 40 wounded, Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Falah al-Mohammedawi said. The wounded included three children and nine women, police said.

Late Monday, new television footage showed two hostage German engineers surrounded by masked gunmen. Al-Arabiya TV did not air audio from the tape, but said the kidnappers warned the German government it was the “last chance” to meet their demands or the men would be killed.

Thomas Nitschke and Rene Braeunlich were seized last month in Beiji, 115 miles north of Baghdad. No new demands were made, and the kidnappers did not set a deadline, the TV station said. In an earlier tape, the previously unknown Tawhid and Sunnah group called for Germany to cut ties with the U.S.-backed Iraqi government.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters in Jerusalem the tape was “once again shocking evidence of human humiliation” and said the Berlin government “will continue our efforts to bring the two of them to safety as quickly as possible.”

The U.S. military said Monday that American and Iraqi soldiers killed one insurgent and arrested 16 others in raids around the city of Muqdadiyah, northeast of Baghdad. The Sunday night raids involved units from the U.S. 4th Infantry Division and the 101st Airborne Division.

One Iraq soldier was slightly injured in the firefight in which the insurgent was killed, the military said.

Attempt to form new government
Violence is continuing in Iraq as political leaders try to form a new government to include all sectarian and ethnic communities, a move the U.S. hopes will help calm the Sunni-led insurgency so American and other foreign troops can begin heading home.

On Sunday, Iraq’s leading Shiite bloc picked Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari for another term, a major step toward forming a government. But Western diplomats cautioned the process of finalizing a new government has weeks if not months to go.

In a sign of the political difficulties ahead, Khalaf al-Ilyan, a senior official of a major Sunni Arab party, criticized al-Jaafari, calling his administration “the worst Iraq has so far experienced” because it failed to curb alleged human rights abuses by Shiite-led security services.

In Syria, Muqtada al-Sadr, an influential Iraqi Shiite Muslim cleric, held talks with Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa. The two discussed Syria’s hope of restoring diplomatic ties with its Arab neighbor once a new government is in place, the official Syrian news agency reported.

Al-Sharaa told al-Sadr that Syria believed renewed ties would be “the basis for advancing bilateral relations and strengthening them in all fields,” SANA reported.

Al-Sadr told SANA after the meeting that he expected improved ties.

The Shiite cleric, whose militia has fought U.S. troops and rival Shiite groups for prestige and power since the ouster of Saddam Hussein, has been meeting Middle East leaders during a tour of the region. He has been in Iran and also met in Syria with President Bashar Assad. He is scheduled to visit Lebanon as well.

Syria broke relations with Baghdad in 1982, accusing Iraq of inciting riots by the banned Muslim Brotherhood in Syria. Commercial ties improved during the last few years of Saddam’s rule. He was overthrown after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003.

In addition to those slain in the suicide bombing Monday, at least 14 other people were killed nationwide.

Among those deaths, gunmen killed three brothers and two of their sons in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, police said. All five were members of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the country’s leading Shiite political party.

Protests against British
Meanwhile, a prominent Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed al-Yaqoubi, called for a demonstration Tuesday in front of the British Consulate in the southern city of Basra to protest alleged abuse of Iraqi youths by British soldiers.

Video images first reported by the News of the World , a Sunday newspaper, appeared to show soldiers dragging several young Iraqis into a compound and beating them with fists and batons. The newspaper said the video was filmed in southern Iraq by a corporal two years ago. It did not name the soldier or the unit involved.

British military police said Monday they had arrested one man in their investigation of a video that appeared to show soldiers abusing prisoners in Iraq.

An Associated Press photographer who witnessed the demonstration that preceded the alleged beatings said it took place in Amarah, capital of Maysan province 180 miles southeast of Baghdad. Provincial Gov. Adel Mahudar confirmed the demonstration occurred near his office.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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