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Roadside bomb wounds 4 in Iraqi patrol

Ex-inspector calls prewar intelligence failures 'disturbing'

Firefighters try to put out a blaze at the scene of a bombing Wednesday outside a Baghdad hotel.
Firefighters try to put out a blaze at the scene of a bombing Wednesday outside a Baghdad hotel.

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Ex-weapons inspector David Kay says almost everyone was wrong about Saddam Hussein's weapons programs.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A roadside bomb exploded Thursday morning northeast of Baghdad, wounding four members of an Iraqi Civil Defense Corps patrol, a U.S. military official said.

No coalition forces were hurt in the attack in Baqubah, a town about 32 miles (51 kilometers) northeast of the Iraqi capital, according to the U.S.-led coalition.

Baqubah is in the restive "Sunni Triangle" area -- a region north and west of Baghdad known as a hotbed of guerrilla insurgency.

The explosion came in the wake of a car bomb blast Wednesday in Baghdad that killed the driver and at least two bystanders, a U.S. military official said.

The explosion occurred at dawn near the Shaheen Hotel in the Karada neighborhood. The bystanders were a South African contractor and an Iraqi civilian. At least four Iraqis were wounded, the U.S. official said.

Iraqi police said explosives may have been packed inside an ambulance or a vehicle made to look like an ambulance.

It was unclear if the blast was a suicide bombing or if the explosives detonated accidentally.

The explosion battered the front of the three-story hotel and neighboring buildings, leaving a large crater in the road, said U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Hertling.

It also was uncertain if the hotel was targeted. Hertling said the bomb may have been intended for another site since it blew up in the middle of the street.

U.S. soldiers from the 1st Armored Division cordoned off the area and began investigating.

The hotel had housed U.N. workers before they pulled out of Iraq in the wake of an attack last year on the world body's headquarters in Baghdad. Iraqis and foreign contractors frequent the hotel.

The latest bombings punctuate a violent week in the Sunni Triangle.

Six U.S. soldiers, four Iraqi police officers, two CNN employees and an Iraqi civilian were killed Tuesday in five attacks throughout the country. Coalition forces also killed three armed insurgents during a raid. (Full story)

Amid the violence, a U.N. team arrived Tuesday to review security ahead of electoral experts. The latter will explore the possibility of a direct vote for a transitional assembly before Iraqis assume power this summer. (Full story)

Another U.N. security assessment mission arrived Friday to help coordinate the possible return of the world body's international staff to Iraq in the future.

Inquiry clears Blair

A British judge Wednesday cleared Prime Minister Tony Blair's government of any direct involvement in the suicide of a government weapons expert. (Full story)

Lord Hutton found there was no basis to a May report from the BBC that the British government exaggerated the threat from Iraq.

Hutton investigated the events surrounding the July death of David Kelly. Kelly was found dead days after being exposed as the source for the BBC report that Blair's office "sexed up" a dossier making the case for war.

Hutton criticized the BBC, calling the report "unfounded." The report alleged the British government knew a claim that Iraq was capable of launching weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes was based on false intelligence.

Blair has faced pressure over the lack of evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, particularly after the recent assertion by former U.S. chief inspector David Kay that the country probably didn't have any stockpiles of such weapons.

In Washington, Kay testified Wednesday before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on the weapons issue. Kay resigned last week as director of the Iraq Survey Group, a CIA/Pentagon team searching for banned weapons in the country.

Kay blamed intelligence failures for the apparently incorrect conclusion that Saddam Hussein possessed large stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction before the U.S.-led invasion. (Full story)

Kay told the senators that prewar intelligence indicated Saddam had banned weapons. "It turns out we were all wrong, and that is most disturbing," he said.

Kay said he did not believe that intelligence officials had been pressured to conclude that Saddam's government had unconventional weapons.

The Bush administration, supported by Blair, cited the existence of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program as a key reason for going to war. (Full story)


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