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Iraq: Blast Reported At Kurdish Party Office In Kirkuk

Kirkuk, 20 November 2003 (RFE/RL) -- There has been an explosion outside the offices of a leading Kurdish party in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, injuring several people. It was not immediately clear what caused the blast near the local offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Jalal Talabani, the current head of Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council, is the party's leader.

In the southern city of Al-Basrah, the Assyrian Democratic Movement party has issued a statement saying party official Sargoun Nanou Murado was abducted and killed by unknown assailants while on his way to work on 18 November. The statement says the victim's body has been found in an Al-Basrah suburb.

Late yesterday, a car bomb exploded near the home of a pro-American leader in the central Iraqi city of Al-Ramadi.

Sheikh Amer Ali Suleiman -- a leader of the Duleim tribe, one of the main Sunni tribes in Iraq -- was not wounded in the blast, although a child was reported killed.

Suleiman is a member of the city council in Al-Ramadi -- about 100 kilometers west of Baghdad -- which is located in the "Sunni Triangle" where anti-U.S. attacks are concentrated.

Also yesterday, U.S. soldiers detained two Iraqi men suspected of plotting to shoot down aircraft with missiles around Saddam Hussein's hometown. The detentions in Tikrit came as forces inside the base of the U.S. 4th Infantry Division there fired mortars for the fourth consecutive night at insurgent positions across the nearby Tigris River.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military announced yesterday that American jets had used some of the biggest bombs in their arsenal against suspected insurgent targets in central Iraq. Military spokesman Major Gordon Tate said two 900-kilogram satellite-guided bombs were dropped near Baqouba, 50 kilometers northeast on insurgent targets.

Tate also said 450-kilogram bombs had been dropped on "terrorist targets" near the northern city of Kirkuk.

AP reports Iraqi civilians living in the affected areas expressed outrage over the use of such force.