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Suicide bomber kills at least 8 in Baghdad

Police raid insurgent hideout south of capital

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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A suicide bomber wearing a vest packed with explosives blew himself up outside an Iraqi army recruitment center in Baghdad, killing at least eight people and wounding 28 others, police said.

An Iraqi commando was among the dead in Wednesday's blast.

The bombing took place outside the main gate of the former Muthana Air Base -- site of several previous suicide attacks.

In an attempt to crack down on insurgent violence, Iraqi police said they conducted a raid Wednesday in Babil province in the same area where a suicide blast killed more than 90 people last week. (Full story)

Authorities said they killed two insurgents, detained one man and confiscated a gasoline tanker rigged with explosives in a suburb of Musayyib, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) south of Baghdad.

Police traded fire with insurgents for more than 30 minutes at a hideout, said Lt. Col. Ahmed al-Shimari, the police chief in Musayyib.

Rebels fought police with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, al-Shimari said, and many of them escaped.

The man detained in the raid told police that insurgents were planning to use the explosives-rigged tanker for an attack, the official said.

The Iraqi government on Wednesday observed three minutes of silence to mourn last week's suicide bombing in Musayyib and one in Baghdad that killed nearly 30 people, most of whom were children. (Full story)

Sunnis suspend panel membership

Four Sunni Arabs have suspended their membership on a committee writing Iraq's new constitution, a spokesman for a Sunni political group said Wednesday.

Dr. Salih al-Mutlaq said the Iraqi National Dialogue Council members made the move because of Tuesday's shooting deaths of three, including a Sunni Arab committee member and a committee adviser, in Baghdad.

"Four members of the Iraqi National Dialogue Council suspended their meeting with the national committee until we meet with other Iraq national forces to take a unified position against what happened yesterday," al-Mutlaq said.

He said his group is calling on the U.N. Security Council "to find out the truth of what happened yesterday because we do not trust this government."

Iraq's transitional government -- dominated by Shiite Arabs and Kurds -- has made an effort to include more Sunni Arabs in drafting the constitution.

Sunni Arabs dominated under Saddam Hussein's regime, and the insurgency draws much of its support from that community.

A majority of Sunni Arabs boycotted the January 30 elections, resulting in a scant 17-member representation in the 275-seat National Assembly.

Sunnis are 20 percent of the population in Iraq, while Shiites make up about 60 percent.

Iraq expanded the 55-member constitutional committee to include 15 Sunni Arabs with voting rights and 10 Sunni Arab consultants. The original committee had included only two Sunni Arabs, prompting criticism from many Iraqis that the government had to add more Sunnis to the political process.

Tuesday's killings occurred not long after Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's office said the first draft of the constitution will be ready in late July or early August.

The National Assembly has until mid-August to draft the constitution. The document then must be put to a national referendum in October.

Sheikh Humam Hamoudi, chairman of Iraq's constitutional committee, said Wednesday that a first draft would be ready soon and that he believes the time frame won't have to be changed.

Other developments

  • Several members of the tribunal handling war crimes proceedings against Saddam and his aides have been dismissed for ties to the former ruling Baath Party, said a spokesman for Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi. Chalabi spokesman Entifadh Qanbar didn't provide specifics about the dismissals but said that that other staff members face investigation for similar reasons. Chalabi, the controversial one-time Pentagon favorite, heads the Supreme National Commission for de-Baathification. A spokesman for the Iraqi Special Tribunal had no comment, and it's unclear what impact the dismissals will have on the war crimes proceedings. The tribunal brought its first charges against Saddam on Sunday. No trial date has been set.
  • In a drive-by shooting, gunmen killed the imam of a mosque in southern Baghdad's Dora neighborhood, police said. Sheikh Ahmed Ali Abdulla was gunned down outside al-Taqwa mosque following prayers.
  • Insurgent gunmen northeast of Baghdad in Diyala province killed 10 people Tuesday when they opened fire on a minibus, police said. The bus swerved out of control and crashed into a car, killing three others in the second vehicle. Civilian workers from a U.S. military base in Khalis were on the bus, police said. The driver also was wounded.
  • Nearly 25,000 civilians have been killed in the first two years of the Iraq war, according to a group tracking the civilian death toll from the conflict. The Iraq Body Count, a London-based group of academics and human rights and anti-war activists, said Tuesday that 24,865 civilians died between March 20, 2003, and March 19, 2005. (Full story)
  • CNN's Enes Dulami and Mohammed Tawfeeq contributed to this report.

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