Growing attacks seen as attempt to discredit homegrown security forces, as US troops withdraw.
|The UN delegation including Ad Melkert escaped unhurt after the convoy was hit by a roadside bomb near Najaf [AFP]|
A roadside bomb has hit a United Nations-Iraqi police convoy, killing one policeman and wounding three others.
The UN said Ad Melkert, the special envoy to Iraq who was in one of the vehicles, escaped unhurt in Tuesday’s incident.
Iraqi police said the bomb damaged one of the cars in the convoy as it was leaving Najaf, 160 kilometres south of Baghdad.
“The special representative was in the convoy. He is unhurt. He is fine,” Randa Jamal, a UN spokeswoman in the Iraqi capital, said. “We cannot speculate on what was the motive.”
Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, later confirmed that “regretfully, one member of the Iraqi security forces was killed and several others injured”, Farhan Haq, the UN deputy spokesman, said.
Ban said all UN staff, including Melkert and his deputy, Jerzy Skuratowicz, escaped without injury.
The lingering political impasse seven months after an inconclusive election yielded no outright winner has raised tensions in Iraq.
An Iraqi police officer in Najaf said an investigation had been opened into Tuesday’s attack.
“The initial investigation indicates that the hand of Asaib al-Haq was involved in the attack because they always call for the enemy [foreigners] to be targeted,” said the officer.
Shia militia Asaib al-Haq, or Leagues of Righteousness, which splintered from the Mehdi Army of anti-American Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, frequently claims credit for attacking US forces and kidnapping foreign nationals.
Elsewhere in Iraq, 11 people were killed after blasts ripped through the home of a senior Iraqi police commander in the northern city of Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein.
The attackers planted bombs and left a booby-trapped motorbike near the house of Lieutenant-Colonel Qais Farhan, commander of the emergency response unit of Tikrit, police major Dawood Sulaiman told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday.
|The Najaf attack follows a deadly bombing which killed nearly a dozen people in Tikrit [AFP]|
He said four people were also wounded in the explosion, including Farhan. The dead included three children and four women, all of them relatives of the police commander.
The Associated Press news agency said the dead included Farhan’s six-month-old nephew and the baby’s parents.
Three other family members – Farhan’s mother, brother and sister – also were killed, Colonel Khalid Jassim of the Tikrit police, said.
Police, soldiers and civil defence forces searched for victims under the rubble.
Meanwhile, in Samarra, 95km north of the capital, Baghdad, a roadside bomb struck a police patrol, killing two policemen and wounding two others, while in Baghdad two bombs planted in buses wounded 15 Iranian pilgrims, officials said.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to talk to the media.
Meanwhile, an Iraqi military general said he will investigate his troops in connection with the alleged beating of two journalists a day earlier.
Two AP journalists were among those assaulted by Iraqi soldiers while trying to cover a Monday morning bombing that killed a Baghdad provincial council member.
An AP Television News cameraman had his foot broken while soldiers punched and kicked an AP photographer.