A roadside bombing killed four American soldiers in southwestern Baghdad, the U.S. command said Tuesday, and 16 Iraqi government workers died in a hail of gunfire as they left work on the western edge of the capital.
The bloodshed occurred against a backdrop of intense deliberations to forge a new constitution by an Aug. 15 deadline. A draft copy published Tuesday in a government newspaper said Islam would be designated as the main source of legislation — a departure from the model set down by U.S. authorities during the occupation.
A statement by the U.S. command said the soldiers from Task Force Baghdad died Sunday night when their vehicle ran over a roadside bomb in the southwest of the city. The statement gave no further details.
However, Jim Driscoll, a spokesman for the Georgia National Guard, said the victims were assigned to the 48th Infantry Brigade. They were the Georgia Guard unit’s first combat casualties since World War II.
Government workers killed on way home
The 16 Iraqi government employees were killed Tuesday evening on the western edge of the capital when gunmen fired at a pair of buses taking them from an Industry Ministry facility to their homes in Shiite neighborhoods.
Gunmen in two cars followed the buses and opened fire, also wounding 27 passengers, officials said.
U.S. and Iraqi officials hope that the new constitution and the government to be elected in December will help take the steam out of the insurgency, especially if the Sunni Arab community accepts the formula. Most of the insurgents are Sunni Arabs.
Parliament is to approve a constitution by Aug. 15. Voters will decide whether to approve the charter in mid-October and if they do, another general election will take place in December.
In an Internet statement Tuesday, al-Qaida’s wing in Iraq warned Iraqis not to take part in the constitutional referendum, saying democracy goes against God’s law and anyone who participates would be considered an “infidel,” and earmarked for death.
In other developments Tuesday:
- Two gunmen in a speeding car assassinated a top aide to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, police said in Baqouba, a religiously mixed city northeast of Baghdad.
- Gunmen in southern Basra attacked a police patrol, killing a policeman and a civilian.
- The Iraqi government complained again that Syria is not doing enough to stop extremists from crossing the border to carry out attacks in Iraq. Syria insists it is doing all it can.