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Wave Of Assassination Attempts In Iraq Continues

(file photo) 13 June 2004 -- Assassins have struck in Iraq for the second day in a row, killing a senior Iraqi Education Ministry official just one day after the assassination of Iraqi Deputy Foreign Minister Bassam Kubba.

The killing today of 63-year-old Kamal al-Jarrah, who was in charge of the Education Ministry's contacts with foreign countries and the United Nations, was one of at least four apparent attempted assassinations of senior Iraqi government and security officials in the past 24 hours. Failed assassination attempts overnight injured an Iraqi border-guard commander and an Iraqi police chief.

Al-Jarrah was shot early today outside of his home in the Ghazaliyah district of Baghdad -- a predominantly Sunni Muslim neighborhood where support for Saddam Hussein's regime had been strong.

Dr. Hadad was working at Yarmuk Hospital in Baghdad when al-Jarrah arrived in critical condition this morning with multiple gunshot wounds: "At 7:35 a.m. Baghdad time, Kamal al-Jarrah arrived in a critical condition after he was shot.... We took him to the emergency-care unit at Yarmuk hospital. He lasted a minute and a half and then died. He arrived in critical condition. We couldn't even give him first aid. He was hit with many bullets in his chest, stomach, arms, and legs. There were many bullets."

Authorities in the U.S.-led coalition have warned about the possibility of increased attacks ahead of the 30 June transfer of authority to a new transitional Iraqi government.

Meanwhile, just hours after the death of al-Jarrah, a suicide attacker today detonated a car bomb near a U.S. military camp in Baghdad that killed at least 12 people and injured about a dozen others. The U.S. military command in Iraq says the car bomb was detonated as police tried to stop it from driving into the heavily guarded Camp Cuervo. Officials have confirmed that four Iraqi police officers were among the dead.

Also today, a rocket slammed into the heavily fortified "Green Zone" in Baghdad where officials in the U.S.-led coalition have their administrative headquarters. Authorities say the rocket was the first attack by insurgents to strike the Republican Palace -- a building formerly used by ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein that is now used as the headquarters of the chief U.S. administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer. Although no injuries were reported in that attack, the firing of rockets into the Green Zone represents an escalation of the kind of weaponry used by insurgents. Previous
attacks on the Green Zone have used car bombs, mortars, and rocket-propelled-grenade launchers.

Iraq's Interior Ministry says the chief of Iraq's border police, Major General Hussein Mustafa Abd al-Karim, was injured yesterday when gunmen fired on his convoy in Baghdad.

General Majid Almani Mahal, commander of the Atraf police station in Baquba about 64 kilometers northeast of Baghdad, said he was shot and injured by unknown attackers late last night. Mahal was recovering in hospital today from his injuries. He said the attack was an attempted assassination by gunmen in a small car.

The latest violence follows the killing by a car bomb on 17 May of Shi'ite politician Izzedin Salim, who was rotating head of the former Iraqi Governing Council.

It also comes amid a rash of attacks on other high-profile figures. Kurdish Sunni religious leader Sheikh Iyad Kurshid Abd al-Razzak also was shot and killed yesterday by assailants at his home in Kirkuk. Al-Razzak, a 37-year-old imam at Kirkuk's Almaza al-Thaniyah Mosque, was known for defending the rights of Kurds in the oil-rich city.

(compiled from wire reports)

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