A car bomb killed nine people Saturday and three American soldiers died in a separate blast as Iraq braced for a possible wave of insurgent attacks timed to coincide with today's start of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday.
About 45 people were wounded in the car bombing that left nine dead in Mosul, Iraq's third-largest city, which is roughly 240 miles north of Baghdad. The apparent suicide attack occurred outside a two-story police station as officers were picking up their pre-Eid pay. Families traditionally buy new clothes for their children on the Eid.
Witnesses said the blast set vehicles ablaze, blew out windows across a wide area and sent debris flying a distance of more than three football fields. Body parts littered the area.
Five of the dead were police. The others were Iraqi civilians. There were no U.S. casualties.
In a separate attack, a roadside bomb was detonated as an American military convoy was traveling about 25 miles southwest of the northern oil center of Kirkuk. The three U.S. soldiers were killed. The convoy had been traveling between Kirkuk and Tikrit, the hometown of captured Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
Anticoalition guerrillas have a history of attacking on significant dates. They struck on New Year's Eve, when eight people were killed by a car bomb outside a Baghdad restaurant, and coordinated suicide attacks on the first day of Ramadan in late October claimed at least 35 lives.
The four-day Eid al-Adha, or Feast of Sacrifice, commemorates the Koran's account of the Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail to God.
Wolfowitz: U.S. justified despite intelligence
WUERZBURG, Germany _ Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, said Saturday the Bush administration was justified in toppling Saddam Hussein, regardless of whether American intelligence before the war that Iraq had stockpiled unconventional weapons was proved wrong.
"You have to make decisions based on the intelligence you have, not on the intelligence you can discover later," Wolfowitz said during a visit with troops of the 1st Infantry Division, which is to go to Iraq in coming weeks.
The invasion of Iraq, he said, was about more than biological, chemical or nuclear weapons.
"We have an important job to do in Iraq, an absolutely critical job to do, and that is to help the Iraqi people to build a free and democratic country," he said.
Iraqi Governing Council bars Al-Jazeera for month
BAGHDAD _ Iraq's U.S.-appointed Governing Council has barred the Arab news channel Al-Jazeera from government offices and news conferences for one month, the council said Saturday.
The ban on one of the most popular television news stations in the Middle East went into effect Wednesday and is punishment for the disrespect the station allegedly showed toward prominent Iraqis, according to the statement. "Al-Jazeera is trying to ascertain exactly what happened with a view to rectify the matter," Al-Jazeera's Jihad Ballout said.
About 200 British protest
LONDON _ About 200 protesters gathered outside the prime minister's residence Saturday to demand an inquiry into why Britain went to war in Iraq, while employees of the British Broadcasting Corp. placed an ad supporting a BBC executive who resigned over a report on Iraqi weapons.
Waving posters that read "Bliar," the demonstrators burned a copy of a report by senior judge Lord Hutton, which harshly criticized the BBC for alleging that the government knowingly hyped the threat from Iraqi arms.
Meanwhile, thousands of BBC employees took out a full-page ad in the Daily Telegraph Saturday voicing support for their former director general, Greg Dyke.