Baghdad deputy governor shot dead

Insurgents in Iraq struck a fresh blow today, shooting dead the deputy governor of Baghdad on his way to work.

Hatim Kamil was killed when gunmen opened fire on his car in the southern Doura neighbourhood, an interior ministry spokesman said. Two of his bodyguards were wounded in the attack.

The shooting came as Iraq's interim prime minister Ayad Allawi warned that time is running out for a peace settlement in the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah.

British troops from the 850-strong Black Watch battle group have begun relieving US forces, in preparation for the expected all-out assault on the city.

Mr Allawi said that efforts to resolve the stand-off have entered their "final phase" and that his patience is running short before launching "a military solution".

He warned of civilian casualties, saying that if he orders an assault it would be with a "heavy heart," because "there will be some loss of innocent lives".

"But I owe it to the Iraqi people to defend them from the violence and the terrorists and insurgents," he said.

Insurgents targeted Black Watch troops yesterday in a series of rocket attacks at their Camp Dogwood base, 25 miles south of Baghdad.

No-one was injured in the four separate assaults and there was minimal damage.

In a separate attack, 15 Iraqis were killed when a rocked slammed into a hotel in Tikrit. The target may have been an American position which was targeted by a second rocket, US military officials said.

British soldiers at Camp Dogwood have faced daily bombardment since arriving on Friday to set up in the US-controlled area close to the Iraqi capital.

Yesterday's onslaught takes the number of rocket or mortar attacks to seven since British troops moved to the area.

A British Army spokesman in Basra said: "Four rocket attacks were fired at the Black Watch. There were no casualties."

In the southern city of Basra, there was a single rocket attack on the airport where the British headquarters is based. The MoD spokesman said no-one was injured in the attack.

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