13 killed in Iraq suicide bombing, shootout
* US troops arrest fugitive general’s relatives, No 54 on US wanted list
* US hints at concessions for early Iraq elections
BAQUBA: A suicide car bomb exploded in the Iraqi town of Baquba Wednesday, killing at least five people and injuring 30 and the US army said it shot dead eight Iraqis in a firefight in Samarra.
The US. military announced it had captured number 54 on its list of the 55 most-wanted Iraqis.
“Five people were killed and 30 were injured including 14 police officers,” said Rafed Mohammed, a surgeon at Baquba’s General Hospital’s emergency unit.
Eight Iraqis were killed Tuesday in a firefight with US troops near the town of Samarra, north of Baghdad, the US military said Wednesday.
“Yesterday afternoon, southwest of Samarra, soldiers from the 1-8 Infantry Battalion killed eight attackers and wounded one,” said Major Josslyn Aberle.
US authorities said troops had this week captured a former Baath party chairman from south of Baghdad. “As a result of aggressive operations this week, the coalition announces the capture of Khamis Sirhan al-Muhammad, number 54 on the most wanted list,” Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt told a news conference in Baghdad.
Four nephews of Saddam Hussein’s former number two, Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, were captured in a pre-dawn raid on the Iraqi town of Samarra on Wednesday, the US military said.
The US State Department said it was willing to be flexible on plans for restoring Iraq’s sovereignty after Ayatollah Sistani warned that a transitional government to be installed in six months would lack legitimacy if unelected.
“There is discussion on how exactly that assembly would be selected,” deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said. “We are engaged with different parties in Iraq in those discussions.”
The UN Security Council was scheduled to hold talks on Iraq on Wednesday after Secretary General Kofi Annan took a first tentative step toward returning UN staff to the country. Diplomats said Annan ordered an advance team to visit Baghdad in the next two weeks to assess security amid calls for the United Nations to help Iraq prepare its first self-rule government since the ouster of Saddam Hussein.—Agencies