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Iraq Transition

Car bomb kills 22 in Baghdad

U.S. military: Al-Zarqawi aide captured

Iraqi firefighters rush to the scene after a car bomb exploded in central Baghdad on Saturday morning.
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A deadly car bomb targeted a convoy of SUVs in central Baghdad Saturday.
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A suicide car bomb targeting an SUV convoy exploded at a busy intersection in central Baghdad and killed at least 22 people, according to the chief spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

Spokesman Bob Callahan said two U.S. contractors were among those killed and "a couple" of other contractors were wounded.

The large-scale assault in Baghdad was the latest in an intensifying wave of attacks. Strikes have killed nearly 300 people since the new transitional government was announced last week.

At least 33 Iraqi civilians were hurt, Iraqi police said.

Police said the blast, at 11 a.m. (3 a.m. EDT) in Tahrir Square -- also known as Liberation Square -- destroyed three SUVs, the kind typically used by private contractors in Iraq. Video of the scene, in which gunfire could be heard, showed burning cars and a large column of black smoke rising over the city.

Witnesses said scores of vehicles and at least 10 stores were damaged.

This same intersection -- at the end of a major bridge crossing the Tigris -- was the site of a car bombing last June in which three Westerners working for a G.E. subsidiary were killed when their SUV convoy was targeted.

U.S. military: Al-Zarqawi aide captured

Also on Saturday, the U.S. military announced an important capture, saying a top associate of terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was arrested in a raid late last month in western Iraq.

Ghassan Muhammad Amin Husayn al-Rawi worked with the militant group Qa'idat al-Jihad Fi Bilad Al-Rafidayn and was captured April 26, a military news release said.

Amin "facilitated movement and meetings for Zarqawi in the Rawa region, facilitated movement of foreign fighters, and allegedly was responsible for terrorist activity resulting in the murder of innocent Iraqis," the release said.

Rawa is 140 miles (209 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad in Anbar province, near the Syrian border.

Other developments

  • The Iraqi National Assembly approved six names to fill six vacant cabinet positions Sunday morning, including the ministers for Defense and Oil. Four of the six posts went to Sunnis, an effort by the Shiite and Kurd dominated transitional government to give a larger voice to the Sunni minority. The Defense, Industry and Human Rights ministries will be headed by a Sunni and a newly named deputy prime minister is a Sunni. The Defense Minister will be Dr. Sadun al-Dulaimi, a Sunni. The Oil Ministry will be headed by a Shiite, Dr. Ibrahim Bahrululum.
  • A senior official with Iraq's Transportation Ministry was assassinated along with his driver Sunday morning as they left his house in Dora, on the northwest outskirts of Baghdad, Iraqi police said. The official, Zawba' Al-Ma'ini, was responsible for Iraqi transportation projects. He and his driver, Ahmed Jasim, were killed when three gunmen in a small car opened fire on their truck at 7:10 a.m.
  • A homemade bomb killed a U.S. Marine in the Anbar province town of al-Karma on Saturday. The number of U.S. military deaths in the war stood at 1,594 as of Saturday. Al-Karma is 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of Baghdad.
  • Iraq president Jalal Talabani arrived in Jordan on Saturday for talks with King Abdullah II, Jordan's official news agency, Petra, reported. The two leaders said relations are moving "in the right direction," reported Petra, which quoted Abdullah as saying, "We all must band together to fight terrorism, which is targeting the brethren Iraq and its political process."
  • An Iraqi civilian died Saturday in an apparent insurgent attack near the restive city of Tal Afar, the U.S. military said. Also Saturday, U.S. and Iraqi forces seized 30 suspected insurgents and found weapons during operations around Mosul and Tal Afar, one day after 22 arrests were made in those northern cities, the U.S. military said.

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