MOSUL, Iraq - A car bomb ripped through a police station in this northern Iraqi city yesterday, killing at least nine people and wounding 48, and an attack on a U.S. convoy near Kirkuk killed three American soldiers.
The car bomb threw severed body parts across four lanes of traffic. Wounded Iraqi officers stumbled down the block after the attack on the police station, leaving a trail of bloody footprints to a small pediatric hospital that was rapidly overwhelmed by the wounded. The blast appeared timed for the moment when the busy police station was sure to be fullest: payday on the eve of the four-day Eid al-Adha feast.
"They just started coming in the door," said Dr. Ghait Al-Sebawi of Ibn Itheer Pediatric and Maternity Hospital. "This is the first time we have anything like this. We did what we can."
Orange-and-white ambulances from around the city screamed up to the front door of Ibn Itheer, as wounded officers - bandaged, dazed, some weeping - were carried out of the building and transferred to other hospitals.
Located on a busy boulevard, the police station had been hit with gunfire repeatedly in recent months, according to police and U.S. soldiers at the scene. Tall concrete protective barriers were erected three days before the blast, but witnesses said the bomber - described as a lone suicide attacker - approached the building from the side, which allowed access inside the protective barriers. The explosion hurled the car's charred wreckage onto the entryway of the police station, left the building in flames, and toppled several sections of the concrete barrier, crushing parked cars beneath it.
"I was just in that office a few hours ago," said Army Lt. Larry Done of the 2nd battalion, 3rd Infantry. "We were talking about how we were going to identify the car that has been shooting at them, and then this happened."
In the Kirkuk blast, a convoy from the Army's 4th Infantry Division was passing about 25 miles southwest of the city when it was rocked by a roadside explosion, a spokesman said. The three deaths brought to 522 the number of U.S. soldiers killed since coalition forces invaded in March.
In Baghdad yesterday, Adnan Pachachi, who holds the rotating presidency of the Iraqi Governing Council, announced a new law creating a public integrity commission that will serve as an anti-corruption watchdog for Iraq's transitional government.
The commission, which will have broad powers to audit and investigate government ministries, is supposed to foster a "culture of transparency and honesty" in a society where bribery and influence-peddling are rife. It would be the first of its kind in the region.
As billions of dollars in reconstruction funds are about to begin pouring into Iraq, a senior official with the U.S. led-occupation authority said the new law gives Iraq a "world class" tool that would help its fledgling government "root out corruption and prevent corruption."
He acknowledged, however, that Iraq has few trained auditors or financial investigators.
Another senior official said that all of the $18.6 billion that the U.S. government has earmarked for Iraqi reconstruction would be subject to audit by U.S. authorities.
It is unclear what authority, if any, the integrity commission would have to investigate foreign businesses and employees suspected of corrupt practices, nor is it clear whether the commission will survive beyond the transitional phase of the new government.
In a related matter, Pachachi said the Governing Council's legal committee would look into allegations that Saddam Hussein's government bought the support of foreign leaders by giving them oil credits that could be traded on the open market for immense profits in violation of the U.N. embargo.
The list of recipients, published in a local newspaper, includes officials in the office of Russian President Vladimir V. Putin, a French businessman close to Jacques Chirac, the Russian ambassador to Baghdad, and British parliamentarian George Galloway, an ardent supporter of the previous Iraqi regime. Galloway and many of the others on the list deny receiving the credits.
"We have yet to consider this in detail, but obviously this is a very serious matter that deserves our close attention," Pachachi said.
Pachachi also said the Governing Council would began debate within 10 days on draft legislation for the transitional government that is supposed to take power in Iraq on June 30.
The Chicago Tribune is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.
Killed in Iraq
As of yesterday, 522 U.S. service members have died since the beginning of military operations in Iraq and 2,562 U.S. service members have been wounded. Since May 1, when President Bush declared that major combat operations had ended, 384 U.S. soldiers have died.
Three 4th Infantry Division soldiers were killed yesterday by a roadside bomb near Kirkuk.
Army Pfc. Luis A. Moreno, 19, Bronx, N.Y.; died Thursday of wounds sustained in a shooting Jan. 23 in Baghdad; assigned to 4th Battalion, 1st Field Artillery, Fort Riley, Kan.
Army Staff Sgt. Sean G. Landrus, 31, Thompson, Ohio; died Thursday of wounds sustained in an explosion Tuesday in Khaldiyah; assigned to 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan.
Army Chief Warrant Officer Patrick Dorff, 32, Minneapolis; killed in helicopter crash Jan. 25 in the Tigris River in Mosul; assigned to 1st Battalion, 10th Aviation, Fort Drum, N.Y.
- Associated Press