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Allawi: Iraqi officials to get Saddam in 2 weeks

Pentagon officials unaware of immediate transfer plans

Saddam Hussein, shown in U.S. custody, is being held at an undisclosed location.
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Deadly car bomb targets Western contractors.

Chaos follows a deadly car bombing in Baghdad.

Gearing up for the transfer of sovereignty.
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• Interactive: Sectarian divide

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and all Iraqi detainees will be handed over to Iraqi authorities in the next two weeks, Iraq's interim prime minister said Monday.

But Pentagon officials insist they are not aware of any immediate plans calling for the United States to hand over Saddam or any detainees.

They say U.S. forces will continue to hold Saddam and thousands of other detainees even after power is transferred to the Iraqi government at the end of June.

Pentagon officials' comments came after Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said he had received an official confirmation that the former Iraqi leader would be turned over to the country's interim government.

"Saddam and the others will be delivered to the Iraqis, to the Iraqi government," he told the Arab satellite network al-Jazeera.

The U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority will transfer sovereignty to the Iraqi people June 30.

When asked when a trial for Saddam might begin, the prime minister said, "As soon as possible, God willing."

Saddam was captured by U.S. troops December 13 near his ancestral home of Tikrit, where he was hiding in a "spider hole."

U.S. officials have described Saddam as being less than cooperative during his interrogations.

At this time, no charges have been filed against him.

Series of bombings kills 16

Allawi also vowed to plug security holes in his battered country, where a spate of bombings in the capital killed at least 16 people Monday.

At least 13 people, including five foreign nationals, died in a suicide car bomb attack about 8 a.m. (midnight ET) on a side street off Baghdad's Liberation Square, and three more civilians were killed in roadside bomb attacks later in the morning.

More than 60 people, including three Iraqi police officers, were wounded in the attacks.

It was the second deadly car bombing in Baghdad in two days.

"We deplore this terrorist act and vow to get the criminals to justice as soon as possible," Allawi said.

About 40 minutes after the car bombing, a 14th person -- a Western civilian contractor -- was killed in a roadside attack in eastern Baghdad, a coalition official said.

In another attack Monday in Baghdad, Iraq police Lt. Col. Abdul Rahman Adnan said two Iraqi civilians were killed and four wounded by a roadside bomb that apparently targeted passing Iraqi police patrol cars.

According to a senior military coalition official, the apparent target of the Liberation Square car bomb was a convoy of three sport utility vehicles.

General Electric Co. spokesman Gary Sheffer said three of those killed Monday were employees of subsidiary Granite Services, which works on power-generation projects, and two others were security contractors working with the employees.

He said one of the three was from the United States but did not give the nationalities of the other two employees. The families were being notified, the spokesman said.

However, the British Foreign Office in London confirmed two Britons died in the blast, and the French Embassy in Baghdad said one of its citizens was killed. The identification of the fifth foreign national was not immediately known.

Shahab Ahmed with the Ministry of Health said eight Iraqis were also killed and 60 others wounded in the explosion.

According to Hassan Rashid with Baghdad Emergency Police, an SUV packed with 1,100 pounds (500 kilograms) of explosives was used in the attack. He said nine cars were destroyed in the blast, along with the three SUVs.

Several vehicles caught fire from the blast, and firefighters worked to put out the flames. A building was demolished in the blast. Iraqis dug through the rubble, removing bloodied victims.

People were loaded into the back of pickups and into ambulances to be taken for medical treatment. Pools of blood could be seen on the pavement.

Sunday bombing kills 12

Monday's car bombing came a day after another car bomb attack near a U.S. military installation on the outskirts of Baghdad. That blast left 12 Iraqis dead, eight civilians and four police officers.

Also Sunday in Baghdad, gunmen shot and killed Education Ministry official Kamal al-Jarah outside his home, the ministry told CNN. It was the third attack -- and the second successful one -- on a senior Iraqi official in less than a week.

The spate of attacks has inflamed the tempers of many Iraqis. Shouts of "Where is the freedom?" and "Where is the democracy?" could be heard from members of the crowd after Monday's car bombing. Others yelled that Americans and Jews were responsible.

Some Iraqis pelted an SUV damaged in the blast with sticks and stones. Gunshots could be heard at the scene.

Despite the attacks, coalition spokesman Dan Senor said the handover of sovereignty to an Iraqi government planned for June 30 was going forward -- and had already taken place in many instances.

"We started handing over ministries a couple of months ago, and more than half of them are now being run by Iraqis," he said. "Iraqis are running most functions of their government right now."

Other developments:

  • A CIA official said Monday that the quality of an audiotape purported to be of Ayman al-Zawahiri, a top al Qaeda lieutenant, is too poor to determine if it is authentic. The speaker on the tape broadcast Friday on the Arab network Al-Arabiya claimed to be al-Zawahiri and said Americans don't want democracy and freedom in the Arab world.
  • Two Lebanese nationals have been kidnapped in Iraq, a Lebanese Foreign Ministry official said Monday. The two worked for the construction company Suwaydan, the official said, and they were reported missing Sunday, the official said.
  • Iraq wants the help of a multinational security force after the scheduled handover of power June 30, but "On major operations, which [have] political consequences, they've got to seek the approval of the Iraqi leadership or command," said Sheikh Ghazi al-Yawar, Iraq's interim president.
  • CNN's Jane Arraf and Stephanie Halasz contributed to this report.

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