Baghdad toll creeps up

A car bomb killed two people near Poland’s Baghdad embassy, five days after the Polish ambassador was wounded in a separate attack.

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The police station targeted was in a village near the city of Samarra, 100 km north of Baghdad.

Nine others were killed by roadside bombs or car bombs across Iraq. One car bomb killed four people and wounded 10, including women and children, near central Baghdad’s Technology University, police said.

Two US soldiers died, one in combat operations in Anbar province and another from wounds sustained on Friday in fighting near the town of Baiji north of the capital.

Washington and US commanders have credited a security crackdown involving 30,000 extra US troops with significant falls in the number of troops and civilians killed in Iraq in September, but they also say violence levels are still too high.

Move to Green Zone

Roman Polko, the head of Poland’s national security agency, told Polish television’s tvn24 that Poland was already planning to move to new buildings inside the fortified Baghdad Green Zone, home to the US and British embassies as well as the Iraqi parliament and many government ministries.

Acting Baghdad ambassador Waldemar Figaj told Reuters there were no casualties among Polish staff and no damage to the embassy in the latest attack.

Iraqi police said a car bomb at least 200 metres from the embassy killed two people and wounded five.

Figaj said that four explosions hit near the embassy today and described the first blast this morning as “very, very powerful”.

The shockwave from the blast blew windows at the embassy open but there was no damage. “I don’t believe we were targeted. We just felt the impact,” Figaj said.

Poland’s ambassador to Iraq, General Edward Pietrzyk, was injured in a triple bomb attack on his diplomatic convoy in Baghdad last Wednesday in which one Polish secret service officer and an Iraqi passer-by were killed.

Intelligence chief Zbigniew Wasserman said that Poland, a staunch US ally and one of the first to join the 2003 US-led invasion, would move its mission across the Tigris River to the Green Zone “within several weeks”.

US embassy officials today repeated their condemnation of the attacks on Poland, which still has about 1,000 troops stationed in southern Iraq.

“We strongly condemned it mainly on the grounds that Poland is a strong ally and has been from the beginning,” US embassy spokeswoman Mirembe Nantongo told reporters.

Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski vowed to maintain Poland’s troops in southern Iraq despite last week’s attack.

Mr Pietrzyk’s doctor said yesterday the ambassador remained in an induced coma but his condition had improved slightly. His condition was serious but not life-threatening, the doctor said.

The US crackdown, which was launched in mid-February and came into full effect in June, was aimed at Sunni Islamists and Shi’ite militias, who Washington claims are backed by Iran.

The US military said it killed five gunmen and detained three suspected Iranian-backed “Special Groups” members in a raid on Baghdad’s Sadr City, a stronghold of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mehdi Army militia.