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Polish ambassador hurt in Baghdad bombing

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Polish diplomat released from hospital, will be treated further in Europe
  • Blast injures the envoy, Gen. Edward Pietrzyk, and kills five
  • Car bombs in Baghdad neighborhood strike Polish convoy
  • New Joint Chiefs chairman begins weeklong visit to Iraq, Afghanistan
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BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Three bombs Wednesday in Baghdad struck the convoy of the Polish ambassador to Iraq, wounding the diplomat and killing three others in the entourage, including one of his bodyguards, authorities said.

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Iraqi soldiers inspect the site of a Baghdad blast that injured the Polish ambassador Wednesday.

In addition, the explosions killed two Iraqi civilians and wounded 11 others in the downtown Karrada neighborhood. The convoy's three sport utility vehicles -- all bearing Polish flags -- were hit in the blasts, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official said.

The ambassador, Gen. Edward Pietrzyk, was evacuated from the scene by a helicopter from Blackwater USA, the security firm that protects U.S. diplomats, a source told CNN.

The deputy chief of the Polish mission said Pietrzyk was released Wednesday afternoon from a U.S. military hospital and was to be taken first to Ramstein Air Base in Germany and then to Poland for further treatment. Officials said the diplomat had a leg wound and suffered burns in the attack.Video Watch video from the scene of the attack »

The deputy said the U.S. military was handling the investigation. He said he was initially told two or three car bombs were involved. "The terrorists opened fire after the bombing and our guys returned fire," he said.

"We expect the government of Iraq to find those responsible for this deliberate attack and punish them."

Iraqi officials said the strike targeted the convoy, but it was unclear if it was an assassination attempt on Pietrzyk.

But the deputy chief of mission was unequivocal, saying, "In my view it was a deliberate attack to kill."

The blasts were powerful: News footage showed the charred SUVs, a helicopter landing on a rubble-strewn street, heavily equipped soldiers escorting a bandaged man into the craft and a chopper flying away.

After the blast, U.S. troops swiftly moved into the area and sealed it. The Americans assisted with evacuation and medical support, said Mirembe Nantongo, a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman in Iraq.

Ryan C. Crocker, U.S. ambassador to Iraq, and Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in the country, condemned the attack.

"Poland has been a strong and steadfast ally here and around the world, and we commend its commitment to a stable and secure Iraq," they said in a joint statement.

Poland has had a strong presence in the U.S.-led coalition, and its military commands the Multi-National Division-Central South region.

Warsaw has a contingent of about 900 troops in the country, according to the Brookings Institution's Iraq Index. Twenty-one Polish troops have died in the Iraq war. In 2004, insurgents attacked the Polish Embassy in Baghdad, but no one was injured.

Also Wednesday, Adm. Michael Mullen landed in Baghdad after taking office this week as chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pentagon officials said.

Mullen will spend a week in Iraq and Afghanistan, officials said. Aides said the trip is aimed at giving Mullen an immediate assessment of the situation in both conflicts.

In a message to U.S. troops after taking office Monday, he said, "I know the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are taking a toll on you and your families.

"They are taking a toll on our equipment, our systems, and our ability to train as well. I worry, quite frankly, that they are taking a toll on our readiness for other threats in other places."

Later on Wednesday at least three civilians were killed and seven others were wounded when mortars slammed into two residential neighborhoods in central Samarra, north of Baghdad, police said.

The mortars appear to have been targeting a nearby Iraqi army base, police said.

In a separate incident, in the town of Ishaqi, 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of the capital, an Iraqi police officer was killed at noon Wednesday by unidentified gunmen as he was leaving the police station.

Also, a car bomb explosion in an eastern Baghdad commercial district killed at least one Iraqi civilian and wounded four others Wednesday, an Interior Ministry official said.

Meanwhile, a U.S. military commander in Iraq maintained Wednesday that a man arrested last month by American forces in the Iraqi Kurdish region is a key operative from the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force.

Maj. Gen Kevin Bergner dismissed Iranian claims the man is a businessman.

Bergner said Mahmoud Farhady, arrested September 20 in Sulaimaniya, has been in charge of the Zafar Command, one of three units of the Ramazan Corps of the Quds Force.

The U.S. military has accused Quds Force agents of training and equipping Iraqi insurgents, an allegation Iran repeatedly has denied.

In Washington, Iraq's national security adviser met with top Bush administration officials on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to one of his aides.

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Mowaffak al-Rubaie conferred with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Tuesday and was to meet with Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday, the aide said.

Al-Rubaie and Rice discussed the training of Iraqi security forces, the role of private security companies and the Iraqi neighbors conference to be held in November. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Jennifer Deaton, Jomana Karadsheh and Suzanne Simons contributed to this report.

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