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Attack on Iraqi workers kills 12

Defense minister blasts Syria over 'infiltration of terrorists'


• Interactive: Who's who in Iraq
• Interactive: Sectarian divide



BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Insurgents killed 12 Iraqi workers and wounded 22 in an attack Tuesday on minibuses at a factory west of Baghdad, an Iraqi police official said.

Workers were departing an iron factory in Abu Ghraib on the capital's western outskirts when the attack occurred.

Several buses were bringing laborers home for the day, but the two vehicles attacked were those headed for the mainly Shiite neighborhoods of Sadr City and Shula in Baghdad.

Police said they believe the attackers targeted those two minibuses.

In the northern city of Mosul, an ambulance driver and a female civilian died when they were caught in crossfire between insurgents and Iraqi soldiers, police said. Six other civilians were wounded.

In other violence Tuesday, the Baquba leader of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia was shot and killed, police said. He was identified as Sa'ad Yunis al-Difa'I.

Syria criticized

Iraq's defense minister criticized Syria on Tuesday for ignoring Iraqi demands "to stop the infiltration of terrorists."

The official, Saadoun al-Dulaimi, singled out Iraq's western neighbor as among states that are slack on stopping the flow of militants into his country.

"When the lava of the exploding volcano of Iraq overflows, it will first hit Damascus," al-Dulaimi warned during a news conference to discuss an upcoming nationwide security plan.

He said militants are coming into Iraq from Syria via three routes, with the intent of targeting the Baghdad area.

The first one is in the far north, passing through Tal Afar, south into Baiji and Kirkuk and then into Baghdad.

The second route is along the Euphrates River, from the border town of Qaim into Falluja, west of the capital.

From there, fighters proceed to other places -- such as Abu Ghraib outside Baghdad and the "Triangle of Death" towns south of the capital -- Yusifiya, Latifiya and Mahmoudiya.

The third course is near Iraq's border with Syria and Jordan. Al-Dulaimi said most car bombers use this route, a desert stretch easy to penetrate.

Syria insists it is trying to stem the flow of such movements.

Other developments

  • Four U.S. troops died when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb in southwest Baghdad, the U.S. military said. The casualties in the incident Sunday evening were members of the Army's Task Force Baghdad, according to a military statement. The latest deaths bring the number of American troops killed in Iraq to 1,779.
  • An Internet statement posted Tuesday in the name of al Qaeda in Iraq claimed the group had issued death sentences against two Algerian envoys kidnapped last week in Baghdad. The statement -- published by several Islamic Web sites -- could not be immediately authenticated. Algeria has withdrawn its diplomats and their families from the country after the abductions, Foreign Minister Mohammed Bedjaoui told Algerian television Monday. (Full story)
  • Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka met Tuesday with Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and other transitional government officials in Baghdad. Poland has been a key member of the U.S.-led operation in Iraq.
  • A study by the U.S. State and Defense departments found that insurgents and other criminals have infiltrated Iraqi police ranks due to poor screening procedures by American forces. (Full story)
  • CNN's Enes Dulami and Cal Perry contributed to this report.

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