A wave of seventeen car bombings across Iraq has killed an estimated 50 people, including 3 U.S. soldiers, and wounded around 114, according to Iraqi police and health officials.
A car bomb north of the capital killed one U.S. soldier, and two more U.S. soldiers were killed in another car bombing near Diyarah, about 30 miles south of Baghdad.
The most serious of the attacks involved four Baghdad car bombs, which exploded in quick succession, at and around the headquarters of the Interior Ministry's special forces unit in central Baghdad. The blasts caused heavy damage to the special forces headquarters. At least 20 Iraqis, including 15 soldiers, were killed and over 65 troops or civilians were injured. Seven American soldiers were injured in the blasts.
The bombing blitz underscores realities ignored by U.S. President George W. Bush, who on Thursday refused to set a timetable for withdrawing American troops.
"I believe we're making really good progress in Iraq," Bush said.
Rebels also staged a dramatic ambush against Iraqi forces in Madain, southeast of the capital. A roadside bomb was detonated, then two suicide bombers drove their cars from two different directions into police special officers as they arrived to investigate, killing two Iraqi police and wounding six.
A suicide attacker blew up an ambulance packed with explosives near a police special forces patrol in Baqouba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad. The onslaught of bombings also included another in the northern Kurdish city of Arbil.
The attacks came after Iraq's National Assembly approved an interim Cabinet lineup. The Shiite-dominated Cabinet excludes the Sunni minority from meaningful positions, and nearly a third of the 275-member National Assembly stayed away from Thursday's vote.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., Iraq emerged as the leading issue among Americans asked what topic they would raise if they had 15 minutes to talk to the president. Nearly a quarter of respondents polled by Gallup named urging Bush to end the war in Iraq their top priority. By comparison only 6 percent of respondents said they would tell Bush he was doing a good job.
From agency reports, by Fintan Dunne