Iraqi official killed as violence continues

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Gunmen shot dead an Iraqi official in Baghdad yesterday as more violence broke out across the country. Qassem Mehawi, the deputy head of the communications ministry, was killed in his car. Eight of his bodyguards were wounded.

Gunmen shot dead an Iraqi official in Baghdad yesterday as more violence broke out across the country. Qassem Mehawi, the deputy head of the communications ministry, was killed in his car. Eight of his bodyguards were wounded.

In the holy city of Karbala, 1,000 people, many carrying black banners, marched in mourning for the eight people who were killed when a bomb detonated near a Shia shrine earlier this week. In west Baghdad, a four-wheel-drive vehicle was first bombed and then raked with machine-gun fire. Police said that one foreigner was killed and two were wounded, but their nationalities were not known.

In western Iraq, the body of a man was identified by the Italian foreign ministry as Salvatore Santoro, 52, who had lived in Britain for many years. It is not known what he was doing in Iraq.

On the streets of Baghdad many more police and National Guard are now on patrol, the latter in camouflage uniform and sometimes masked when they man checkpoints. Neither force is well trained and both are regarded as corrupt and incompetent by ordinary Iraqis. Compared to American troops, with their armoured vehicles, they are poorly protected.

In west Baghdad, three National Guardsmen were killed and six injured when a bomb destroyed their pick-up truck.

Meanwhile, the former leader Saddam Hussein met his Iraqi defence lawyer for the first time yesterday. Ziad al-Khasawneh, the director of his legal team, who was with him for four hours, said: "He was in good health and his morale was high and very strong. He looked much better than in his earlier public appearances when he was arraigned a few months ago.''

He said that he did not know when the former Iraqi leader would be brought to trial.

Comments