US convoy attacked in Ramadi

An explosives-laden vehicle has exploded near a US military patrol on a highway 5km northwest of Ramadi, the Iraqi police said.

    There was no word on casualties in Saturday's attack

    There was no word on casualties 

    on Saturday, and US military

    officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

    Al Qaida's wing in Iraq said its "martyrdom brigade" was behind the attack, according to a statement posted on a web site. 
       
    After the blast, US forces immediately closed off the highway, which links Iraq to Jordan, Aljazeera learned.

    Meanwhile, three Iraqi police officers were killed and seven wounded in a bomb blast in the tense northern oil centre of Kirkuk on Saturday as they buried a colleague killed the previous day, the city's police chief said.

    "Around 10:30 (0730 GMT), three policemen were killed and seven others wounded by a bomb in the centre of Kirkuk as the funeral cortege of a colleague killed the day before passed by," said General Turhan Yusuf.

    Anti-Jordan demonstration

    On Friday, Shia demonstrators raised the Iraqi

    flag over Jordan's embassy after more than 2000 people

    marched through Baghdad demanding an apology for the

    alleged involvement of a Jordanian in a bombing

    that killed 125 people.

    Friday's protest - the largest in a week of mounting anger -

    came two days after the leader of the clergy-backed

    United Iraqi Alliance claimed during Iraq's first National

    Assembly meeting that neighbouring Jordan was not doing

    enough to prevent fighters from slipping into Iraq.

    Hundreds of protesters converged on the Jordanian embassy

    after Friday prayers at three Shia mosques

    around Baghdad. They burned Israeli and Jordanian flags and

    shouted slogans against Jordan's King Abd Allah II, such as "

    Take your embassy away. We do not want to see you!" and "

    There's no God but God, Abd Allah is the enemy of God!"

    The Shia protesters burned
    Jordanian flags

    Three men in green camouflage, including one wearing a

    black balaclava, were later seen on an embassy roof raising

    an Iraqi flag on a makeshift flagpole. Another pole that

    previously held the Jordanian banner was bare.

    Shia have staged smaller protests in recent days after

    the Iraqi government on Monday condemned celebrations

    allegedly held by the family of a Jordanian man suspected

    of carrying out a 28 February attack that killed 125

    people in al-Hilla, 96km south of

    Baghdad. Nearly all the victims were Shia police and army

    recruits.

    The Jordanian daily al-Ghad reported that Raid Mansur

    al-Banna carried out the attack

    . The paper later issued a correction,

    however, saying it was not known where in Iraq al-Banna

    carried out an assault.

    "The Jordanian king must apologise to the people of al-

    Hilla and the people of Iraq," said Qasim Husain, a

    Shia cleric at the protest. "Blood money must be paid to

    the victims of al-Hilla."

    Explanations demanded

    Iraqi police and special forces gathered outside the

    embassy but failed to prevent demonstrators from reaching

    the building. The protesters later dispersed; no violence

    was reported.

    "The government condemns strongly any attack against the

    Iraqi people, in particular the hideous massacre of al-Hilla,

    which killed scores of innocent people"

    Asma Khadir,
    Jordan government spokesperson

    A number of Iraqi politicians including interim Prime

    Minister Iyad Allawi have demanded explanations from the

    Jordanian government.

    Jordanian government spokeswoman Asma Khadir said her

    country condemned all terrorism and reconfirmed Jordan's

    solidarity with the Iraqi people.

    "The government condemns strongly any attack against the

    Iraqi people, in particular the hideous massacre of al-Hilla,

    which killed scores of innocent people," Khadir said. "We

    have put intensive measures to track those terrorists, and

    there is security coordination with Iraq to protect the

    borders of both countries."

    The protesters' anger also seemed to have been fuelled by

    comments late last year by King Abd Allah, a Sunni,

    criticising the rising Shia power in war-ravaged Iraq.

    Hostage freed

    In other developments, an Iraqi-Swedish politician

    kidnapped in Baghdad in January has been freed, Sweden's Foreign

    Ministry said on Friday.

    Minas al-Yusifi, the leader of Iraq's Christian Democrats

    who had returned from exile in Sweden to re-establish the party,

    was held by the Iraqi Vengeance Battalion, Martyr al-Isawi

    Brigade.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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