A roadside bomb ripped through a bus today killing 10 people working for an organisation opposed to the Iranian regime, police said.
Another 12 were injured in the blast north of Baghdad.
The blast occurred just after daybreak near Khalis, 50 miles north of Baghdad in Diyala province, police said.
The victims were workers at the Ashraf base of the Mujahedeen Khalk, or MEK, which opposes Iran's regime.
The blast pushed in the side of the public bus and peppered its side with shrapnel holes.
“We were transporting the workers from Baqouba to the Mujahedeen Khalk when the roadside bomb exploded and killed all these people,” said one man who was on the bus.
In other attacks, three British soldiers were injured – one seriously – when a roadside bomb hit a convoy in southern Iraq, a spokeswoman said today.
The explosion occurred late last night in the Gizayza area of Basra, Iraq’s second-largest city, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad. Three soldiers were wounded, one seriously, said British spokeswoman Capt Kelly Goodall.
Elsewhere a roadside bomb killed two police officers and wounded three others in downtown Baghdad’s Karradah district, while one man was killed and six were injured when a bomb hidden in a minivan exploded.
Gunmen killed two more police officers when they attacked a convoy in western Baghdad. Another group seriously wounded a police colonel in nearby Ghazaliyah. Two other police officers were killed in Amarah, 180 miles southeast of Baghdad.
A car bomb targeting an American convoy killed one civilian and injured nine others in Baghdad’s Tahariyat Square, said police Lt Col Abbas Mohammed Salman.
Also yesterday a tribal chief who challenged Iraq’s most feared terrorist and sent fighters to help US troops battle al-Qaida in western Iraq died in a hail of bullets – the latest victim of an apparent insurgent campaign against Sunni Arabs who work with Americans.
Sheikh Osama al-Jadaan was ambushed by gunmen as he was being driven in Baghdad’s Mansour district, a predominantly Sunni Arab area. Al-Jadaan’s driver and one of his bodyguards also were killed, said police Lt Maitham Abdul Razzaq.
Al-Jadaan was a leader of the Karabila tribe, which has thousands of members in Anbar province, an insurgent hotbed stretching from west of Baghdad to the Syrian border. He had announced an agreement with the US-backed Iraqi government to help security forces track down al-Qaida members and foreign fighters.
US troops also raised a scout force from al-Jadaan’s followers known as the “Desert Protectors” to help find insurgents living under the protection of a rival tribe in Qaim and a cluster of nearby towns in Anbar. US officials described the area as a staging ground for smuggling weapons, ammunition and fighters into Iraq.
The prime minister, meanwhile, was frustrated again in trying to fill key security posts, and his spokesman hinted at a deadline if the impasse continued. Nouri Maliki is trying to get Shiite and Sunni politicians to agree on candidates who are independent and not tied to sectarian militias.
Maliki’s spokesman, Yassin Majid, said if negotiations took much longer, the prime minister would ask the political blocs to present three names for each ministry so he could decide.
“There is no deadline for that, but it could happen this week,” Majid said.
Hassan al-Sineid, a Shiite legislator who belongs to Maliki’s Dawa Party, said that step might come by Wednesday.