Iraqi oil minister survives bomb attack
Iraq's oil minister survived an apparent assassination attempt yesterday when a roadside bomb blasted his motorcade, the latest attack on the energy industry that is vital to rebuilding the country's beleaguered economy.
As US forces hunted al Qaeda guerillas on Iraq's border with Syria, the American military denied a claim by Islamist militants to have killed two captured US Marines.
US troops also fought guerillas closer to Baghdad, in the capital of the Anbar region that is home to many insurgents from Saddam Hussein's once dominant Sunni Arab minority. At least five people were killed, said local doctors in Ramadi.
The bomb attack on Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum's motorcade lent weight to fears expressed by Iraqi and US officials of more violence ahead of an October 15 constitutional referendum. Many Sunnis argue that the charter will seal their fall from power and hand oil riches to majority Shi'ite Muslims and ethnic Kurds.
Along with a new Constitution, a trial of Saddam Hussein is also intended by the new, US-backed government to bury Iraq's past. The Special Tribunal trying the former president confirmed the court will first convene on October 19, but said it could be persuaded to adjourn. Saddam's lawyers have demanded more time.
Al Qaeda in Iraq, which claims many of the bloodiest attacks in Iraq, posted a statement on the Internet saying two US soldiers had been killed in the west after US forces failed to free women prisoners as demanded on Sunday by the group.