Karim Kadim  /  AP
Iraqis celebrate near the wreckage of a burning tanker truck near Abu Ghraib, west of Baghdad, on Friday.
updated 12/19/2003 3:10:04 PM ET 2003-12-19T20:10:04

A roadside bomb exploded near a U.S. military truck outside Baghdad on Friday, wounding two U.S. soldiers, the military said, while an Iraqi woman died as another blast hit the office of a major Shiite party.

Capt. Tammy Galloway of the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division said a homemade explosive device exploded on the roadside as a military truck was passing. Iraqi witnesses said earlier that it was an oil tanker and that two soldiers were killed in the blast.

The predawn attack on the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution Party office, which also wounded five others, came a day after Shiites buried a senior politician assassinated Wednesday as he left his home in Baghdad.

Officials of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution party blamed both attacks on loyalists of Saddam Hussein, who was captured by U.S. forces on Saturday.

Rahim Jabar, who lives in the building in western Baghdad, said his sister was killed and five other residents were wounded in the explosion, which brought down half of a one-story residential building that also housed a party branch office.

Supreme Council members were rushing to the scene, and an anti-Saddam rally was planned in the capital later Friday.

Tanker blast
The tanker truck blew up about 7:50 a.m. and television footage showed clouds of black smoke rising from the tanker near Abu Ghraib, about 20 miles west of Baghdad.

One witness, 19-year-old Jassim Mohammed, said he saw the bodies of two Iraqis in a civilian car that was damaged in the blast.

On Thursday, the military reported that rebels had killed a U.S. soldier in the first fatal ambush for the U.S. military since Saddam’s capture.

The soldier was killed late Wednesday when a 1st Armored Division patrol came under fire in northwest Baghdad, the military said. A second soldier and an Iraqi interpreter were wounded.
According to official reports, 314 U.S. soldiers have been killed in combat since the war began March 20, including 199 since President Bush declared the end of major combat on May 1. Another 144 soldiers have died in non-hostile incidents, according to the Pentagon.

Some 140 U.S. soldiers from the 3rd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division also raided a middle-class neighborhood near Baghdad’s international airport overnight and arrested five of seven suspected guerrillas, the military said Friday.

They included a suspected bomb maker, raid commander, Cpt. Joel Kostelac of Harrisburg, Pa., said.

Samarra sweep
Several attacks on U.S. forces and Iraqi police in recent days have claimed more than a dozen lives in Baghdad and in predominantly Sunni areas west and north of the capital, once Saddam’s power base.

U.S. forces also have conducted major operations in Samarra, a focus of guerrilla resistance 60 miles north of Baghdad, since Saddam was captured.

In New York, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called Thursday for a Jan. 15 meeting of major players to discuss what role the international body might play when Iraq makes the transition from U.S. occupation.

Frustrated that neither the Iraqi Governing Council nor the U.S.-led coalition running the country have given him specific answers, Annan said it was time to sit down with representatives from both bodies.

“It has to be a three-way conversation,” he said. “Once we have that, I will make a judgment.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Fedotov said the fate of Russian companies and economic interests in Iraq will affect Moscow’s position in talks on relieving Baghdad’s massive international debt burden.

His comments came a day after President Vladimir Putin told a U.S. envoy that Russia is willing to start negotiations on relieving Iraq’s $8 billion in debt to Moscow, its largest creditor.

While the debt talks and the participation of Russian companies in postwar Iraq are separate issues, “progress in settling one of them will undoubtedly help reach success in talks about the other,” Fedotov told reporters on Friday.

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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