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Iraq Transition

Seven die in Iraq suicide bomb blast

Oil minister resigns over higher gas prices



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


Unrest, Conflicts and War

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Two assassination attempts against officials in Baghdad failed Monday, but a suicide car bomber killed seven people in an attack on a bus carrying police recruits.

The suicide bomber struck early Monday in Baquba, about 35 miles north of Baghdad, said a spokesman for the Joint Coordination Center, which serves a liaison between Iraqi and multinational forces.

Of the seven killed, three were identified as police recruits. The other bodies were too charred for immediate identification.

Hours later, Iraq's industry minister, Usama al-Najafai, survived a roadside bomb attack, Iraqi emergency police said.

And Turkey's ambassador to Iraq escaped unharmed from a coordinated assault on his convoy by 15 to 20 gunmen, said an embassy official who requested anonymity.

Ambassador Unal Cevikoz was leaving the Um al-Qura mosque in western Baghdad when rooftop gunfire rained on his three-car convoy, the official said.

The convoy sped away without anyone getting injured, the embassy official said.

Those assaults came a day after a 7-ton truck slammed into a bus and killed four U.S. civilian contractors.

Authorities are investigating what caused the accident at the Al Asad Air Base in Anbar province.

The fatal crash also injured 18 people, including a U.S. Marine.

Oil minister resigns

Iraqi Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum announced Monday that he had resigned his post in a protest over higher gas prices.

Ahmed Chalabi -- the controversial former exile who has had a rocky relationship with the United States since the war began -- took over as interim oil minister.

At a news conference in Baghdad, Al-Ulum said, "I kept my promise by giving my resignation and giving it to the office of the leader of the ministry in the afternoon of 28th of the last month."

On December 19, al-Ulum threatened to resign his post because of a hike in gas prices.

Higher prices are "not suitable to the economic situation of the people which has a negative affect on their living conditions," he said Monday.

In December, Iraq's Council of Ministers issued a statement announcing a decision to begin enforcement of price increases for oil derivatives.

"I did initially agree to increasing the price of gasoline, but I had a different opinion about the method of executing this order," al-Ulum told reporters at the time.

"We had agreed to donate money to 2 million Iraqi families in need. This money was meant to be distributed before the price raise."

He also said that officials had planned to gradually increase the price, not surge immediately.

Other developments

  • Three bodies were found Monday south of Baghdad, emergency police said. The bodies had their hands tied behind their backs; there were gunshot wounds and signs of torture, police said. There were no signs of identification.
  • The Florida teen who made a December trip to Baghdad without telling his family returned home Sunday night after three weeks in the Middle East. (Full story)
  • U.S. Marines found more than 10 metric tons of hidden weapons during a week-long operation south of Falluja at 72 different sites, the military said Monday in a statement.
  • CNN producer Arwa Damon contributed to this report.

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