Iraqis say blast kills four people, including children
Published August 13, 2005
BAGHDAD - A blast Friday near a mosque west of Baghdad killed four people, including three children, and wounded at least 19 other people, police and hospital officials said.
Iraqis blamed U.S. forces, but an American spokesman disputed the claim.
The blast occurred on the outskirts of the town of Nasaf, near Ramadi, an insurgent center 70 miles west of Baghdad, according to police Lt. Mohammed al-Obeidi and Dr. Mohammed al-Ani of Ramadi General Hospital.
A hospital official, Ali Taleb, said a U.S. armored vehicle fired near the Ibn al-Jawzi mosque, about 15 miles east of Ramadi, after worshipers left the building following Friday prayers.
U.S. Marine Capt. Jeffrey Pool, a military spokesman, disputed the account. He said two roadside bombs exploded near a U.S. convoy in the Ramadi area. Five gunmen and one civilian driver were killed in the subsequent exchange of fire, Pool said.
He said the incident occurred in a rural area with "no towns or mosques for miles."
However, Taleb said 14 of the 19 people wounded in the blast were children.
An Associated Press photographer at Ramadi General Hospital saw at least three children with serious wounds being treated.
The violence continued ahead of the Monday deadline for Iraq's Parliament to approve a draft constitution, which will be put to the voters in a referendum Oct. 15.
But hopes of meeting the deadline worsened after Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, leader of the biggest Shiite party, called Thursday for establishment of a regional autonomous government in Shiite areas of central and southern Iraq.
Kurds are already demanding the constitution enshrine federalism so they can maintain their self-ruled region in the north. Sunni Arabs oppose federalism, fearing it will lead to the disintegration of the country.
On Friday, many Sunni preachers urged their followers to register for the constitutional referendum but said they should vote against the charter if it includes federalism.
In other violence, a U.S. soldier was killed Friday in a roadside bombing while on patrol in Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad, the military said.
Two American service members were injured when their Apache helicopter crashed Friday near Kirkuk, 180 miles north of Baghdad. The U.S. command gave no reason for the crash, but Iraqi police said it was believed to be mechanical and not hostile fire.
[Last modified August 13, 2005, 01:23:07]
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