The attack came three weeks after Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Reesha, a prominent tribal leader was killed by a roadside bomb in Ramadi, the capital of western Anbar province, claimed later by al-Qaeda.

Abu Reesha was the pioneer of the so-called "awakening process" in Iraq, in which tribesmen have joined US forces to confront al-Qaeda in their districts.

Al-Qaeda, after the assassination of Abu Reesha, said it would target others involved in similar initiatives alongside the US military.

Further attacks

Elsewhere, Abbas al-Khafaji, the mayor of Iskandariyah, a mixed Shia-Sunni town 60km south of Baghdad, and four of his bodyguards were killed by a roadside bomb on their way to work, police said.

"An improvised explosive device planted at the side of the road exploded while the vehicle of Abbas al-Khafaji, mayor of the district, was passing by," a police official said.

Two car bombs also exploded in the Iraqi capital, killing at least seven people, interior ministry and defence officials said.

Three roadside bombs ripped through the
Polish ambassador's convoy [AFP]
 
A bomb on a minibus exploded in Al Zafaraniyah, southeast Baghdad, killing four people and wounding eight, while another killed three and wounded eight in Garage Amana in the centre of the capital.

In Tal Afar, northwestern Iraq, a suicide car bomber killed three people and wounded 57 in a town market, 420km northwest of Baghdad, police said. Thirteen of the wounded were in a severe condition, they said.

Separately, police Brigadier-General Ihsan Abdul Karim was killed in a drive-by shooting as he left his home in Babel, south of Baghdad, police said.

Delayed execution

The wave of attacks in and around Baghdad have come a day after Poland's ambassador narrowly survived an assassination attempt in Baghdad that left one Polish bodyguard and two Iraqis dead.

Three roadside bombs, set to explode at short intervals, tore through ambassador Edward Pietrzyk's convoy on Wednesday as he left his residence in the Al-Arasat neighbourhood, Baghdad.

On Thursday, the Iraqi government delayed the execution of Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali", who was convicted of genocide for presiding over the killing of up to 182,000 Iraqi Kurds between 1987 and 1989.

Al-Majid has been convicted of genocide [AP]
Al-Majid, whose death sentence was upheld by the supreme court one month ago, should have been executed under Iraqi law by the end of Thursday.

"The Iraqi government has not made up its mind, the prime minister has not given us the green light yet," a senior government official said.

In the meantime, a separate hearing has been trying al-Majid and 14 co-defendants for having overseen the killing of up to 100,000 people by Saddam Hussein's security forces during a Shia uprising in March 1991.

The bloodshed took place after Iraqi troops were driven out of Kuwait by a US-led alliance in the Gulf war.
 
Two co-defendants in the latest trial - former defence minister Sultan Hashim al-Tai, and Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti, the former armed forces deputy chief of operations - are also awaiting execution after being sentenced to death along with al-Majid for the massacre.

The government has indicated it is unwilling to carry out their executions until the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in about 10 days.

Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister has said he has been consulting lawyers.