updated 8/23/2006 11:29:41 AM ET 2006-08-23T15:29:41

A roadside bomb exploded Wednesday in Baghdad and narrowly missed the interior minister’s convoy, killing two civilians and wounding several traffic policemen, officials said.

Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani was unhurt and it was not clear if he was the intended target or whether the bomb had been meant for a U.S. military convoy that was about 500 yards behind.

The explosion in the predominantly Sunni neighborhood of Dora killed two bystanders, including a 12-year-old, and injured five traffic policemen, said Dora police officer Mohammad al Baghdadi.

Elsewhere in Iraq, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a police headquarters in northern Iraq, killing at least one person, while British officials said a barrage of mortars hit one of their bases in the south.

The suicide bomber in the northern city of Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, detonated his explosives at a checkpoint when he tried to enter the police building, said Maj. Gen. Wathiq al-Hamdani, the police chief.

One woman was killed and 10 people were injured in the blast, he said.

Mosul, a predominantly Arab Sunni city, is 225 miles northwest of Baghdad and has been the site of frequent attacks on Iraqi government facilities by Sunni insurgents.

Mortar round wounds British soldier
The 17 mortar rounds were fired Tuesday at the British base in Amarah, 180 miles southeast of Baghdad, said Maj. Charlie Burbridge, spokesman for the British forces at Camp Abu Naji. One British soldier was wounded, and was hospitalized in stable condition, he said.

One more mortar round landed at the camp Wednesday, but it did not cause any injuries or damage.

Police had earlier reported that Katyusha rockets had been fired at the base, but later said it was a mistaken assumption because they found four rocket launchers near the base.

Burbridge said the camp, which has come under frequent attack in the past three years, was being closed down “imminently, in the next couple of days,” as Iraqi forces were in a position to take over security in the area.

British forces would be repositioned to the east of Amarah and would focus on tackling smuggling, particularly of weapons, from across the border with Iran, he said.

Amarah, 180 miles southeast of Baghdad, is a predominantly Shiite city where anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia wields considerable influence. British troops have come under frequent attacks there.

“If two days go by without some kind of attack in the direction of the camp, we’d be surprised,” Burbridge said.

Iraqi officer, policeman shot dead
Also Wednesday, an Iraqi army officer, 1st Lt. Hassanein Saadi al-Zerjawi, 29, was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in Amarah while a policeman was shot to death in a similar incident Tuesday night in Al-Hay, north of Amarah, police said.

A roadside bomb missed a U.S. military convoy in Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad on Wednesday, killing two pedestrians and injuring 12, said police Lt. Ahmed Salim.

The shooting and the missile attacks are part of the political and sectarian violence sweeping Iraq, which last month claimed 3,500 lives, making July the deadliest month since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.

Since then, Sunni Arab insurgents have been regularly attacking U.S. and Iraqi troops, mostly in the Baghdad area and in the Anbar province to its west. Since February, Iraq has also been wracked by fighting between Sunni and Shiite extremists, raising fears the country is headed toward an all-out civil war.

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