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Baghdad deputy mayor dies, bomber in fresh hit

Baghdad, Oct. 28 (Reuters): A suicide bomber killed himself and at least four more people in Iraq today as Faris al-Assam, the deputy mayor of Baghdad, was killed in a drive-by shooting on Sunday night, the US-led occupying coalition said today.

They said Faris al-Assam was near his home in the capital when the killers struck.

The latest of a wave of suicide bombers blew up his small car outside a school 100 metres from a police station in the town of Falluja west of Baghdad, in the “Sunni Triangle” where resistance to US occupation is stiffest.

US soldiers sealed off the area after the blast, which set cars ablaze and scattered body parts across the street. A bloodied corpse lay by a lamp post covered in a blue blanket. Police initially said the bomber and four civilians had died. Hospital officials later put the toll at six, including the attacker. Suicide bombers attacked three stations of the US-backed police force in Baghdad yesterday, along with the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The ICRC’s scrupulous political neutrality was no protection against a campaign of violence which seems to have been launched against not only US forces, officials and Iraqis working with them, but foreign organisations of any kind.

Spokeswoman Nada Doumani said the ICRC was weighing its response to the mayhem but would not leave Iraq after 23 years of continuous work through three wars.

“Today is a day of mourning for us,” she said. Many ICRC staff were at the funerals today of two colleagues who were among 12 people killed outside the Red Cross offices.

A spokeswoman at ICRC headquarters in Geneva said the review of its presence in Iraq would focus on Baghdad, because other parts of the country were safer.

Other humanitarian agencies were also trying to balance the urge to pursue their mission against the dangers of doing so.

“Definitely some of our people will be leaving Iraq,” Marc Joolens, operations coordinator for medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres, said. “It’s a difficult decision because there are needs, but there are also great risks.” US troops and Iraqis were still collecting body parts around the blasted Red Cross offices early today.

In Mosul, an Iraqi newspaper editor, Ahmed Shawkat, who had written articles criticising radical Islamists, was found shot dead in his office in mid-morning, journalists said.

His attacker or attackers escaped undetected.

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