Insurgents kill 24 and injure 21 in ambushes, bomb blasts
* Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum will be new oil minister, Mihsin Shlash new electricity minister, says Shia lawmaker
* Nearly 100 million dollars misplaced by CPA: US Senator
BAGHDAD: Insurgents killed 24 people in a wave of ambushes and bomb blasts in Baghdad on Thursday.
In the deadliest attack, a man carrying hidden explosives set them off while standing in a long line of job applicants outside an Iraqi army recruitment office in central Baghdad, said police. Thirteen people were killed and 15 were injured in the attack, said hospital officials.
Gunmen also ambushed a police convoy, shooting dead 10 policemen and then setting their vehicles on fire, police said, adding that a car bomb was also detonated as the deputy interior minister’s convoy drove past, killing one of his bodyguards and injuring six people, police said. The official was unhurt.
The violence has left Iraq’s brand new government grappling with how to deal with an insurgency seemingly bent on escalating attacks. Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari had hoped to draw support away from the insurgency by including in his Cabinet members of the disaffected Sunni Arab minority, which dominated under Saddam Hussein. But members of his Shia-dominated alliance have blocked candidates with links to Saddam’s regime, which brutally repressed Shias and Kurds.
Lawmakers from al-Jaafari’s United Iraqi alliance said there was agreement on who would fill the key oil and electricity slots, which are destined for Shias.
Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum, the first oil minister in the former US-appointed Governing Council, will return to the position, said Shia lawmaker Ali al-Dabagh. Former Pentagon favourite Ahmad Chalabi has been filling in as oil minister. His office could not immediately be reached for comment.
Al-Dabagh and two other lawmakers also said that Mihsin Shlash, an independent Shia lawmaker, would be the new electricity minister. Al-Jaafari was in a Cabinet meeting and it was not immediately possible to confirm the appointments with his office.
Meanwhile in Washington, an audit revealed that officials for the former US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq have been unable to account for nearly 100 million dollars from a reconstruction fund. The Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction said the audit had revealed “indications of potential fraud.’
Senator Russ Feingold said that billions of dollars, the success of the stabilisation mission and US credibility were at stake and these reports inspire little confidence in the competence and transparency of US efforts to date.
Earlier, top US commander Gen John Abizaid claimed Syria had ignored US demands to stop foreign fighters crossing the border into Iraq and “terrorists” operating from its country, in comments to Arabic-language Kuwaiti daily al-Rai al-Aam.
Backing for US-led troops in Iraq ebbed further, as the Japanese and Bulgarian parliaments announced they would withdraw troops at the end of the year, at the end of the UN mandate. agencies