BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) — A car bomb detonated by remote control exploded in a crowded central Baghdad square yesterday moments after an American military convoy passed, killing at least two Iraqis and wounding two others, the U.S. Army said. There were no U.S. casualties.

South of the capital, the bodies of 20 Iraqi truck drivers who had been shot were found dumped on a road, their hands bound behind their backs, police Capt. Ahmed Ismail said. Some of the trucks were owned by the government, Ismail said.

With violence on the rise after the Jan. 30 election, Iraqi authorities announced the country’s borders would be sealed for five days this month around the time of a major Shiite religious holiday. Last year during the holiday, about 180 people were killed in suicide attacks at Shiite shrines.

Most of the latest attacks have been against Iraq’s security forces in a bid to undermine public confidence after police and soldiers managed to prevent catastrophic attacks during the elections.

Gunmen fired on an Iraqi police patrol yesterday in Baqouba, north of Baghdad, setting off a gunbattle that killed a civilian bystander and wounded two police officers, a security official said. Assailants also gunned down a police lieutenant in Baqouba, the official said.

Five bodies in Iraqi National Guard uniforms were found yesterday in the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, west of Baghdad. Hospital director Ala al Ani said residents reported that the slain men were among 13 guardsmen who went missing recently.

Two insurgents were killed yesterday in clashes with U.S. forces north of Ramadi, residents and hospital officials said. U.S. forces sealed off access to the town of Sufiya and took up positions in houses and on rooftops.

In Salman Pak, southeast of Baghdad, insurgents attacked Iraqi policemen who came to look for weapons, showering them with machine-gun fire, rocket-propelled grenades and mortar rounds, police said.

“Gunfire was engulfing us,” said Abeer Ihsan, a policeman who was among 13 wounded in the six-hour battle.

Evidence of another attack on Iraqi security troops surfaced yesterday in an insurgent video showing gunmen shooting to death four blindfolded men who identified themselves as Iraqi policemen.

The video, which was obtained by Associated Press Television News, showed the four young men sitting cross-legged on the floor of a room. A date stamp on the video indicated it was recorded Feb. 3.

It was unclear where the policemen had been captured. The men in the video were seen in what appeared to be a remote desert area, kneeling down with their hands tied behind their backs and wearing blindfolds.

Several gunmen with assault rifles standing just steps away from the captives fire repeatedly at the men one by one, shooting them in the back of their heads.

A body was found riddled with bullets in Mosul, police said, and in the northern oil center of Kirkuk, a roadside bomb exploded several minutes after a U.S. military patrol passed, killing one Iraqi, police said. In Baghdad, gunmen shot to death a hospital receptionist.

Also in Mosul, American forces raided the house of a high-ranking Iraqi National Guard officer and arrested four of his security guards, an Iraqi officer said. The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said U.S. forces burst into the house of Brig. Gen. Moataz Taqa, head of a security force command center, after dawn Thursday.

Taqa was not at home at the time, he said. A U.S. military spokesman said he had no information on the purported raid.

Iraqi officials said they will have to recount votes from about 300 ballot boxes because of various discrepancies, delaying final results from the country’s landmark national elections. Up to several thousand other ballots were declared invalid because of alleged tampering.

Election officials had expected to release final results Thursday from the vote for a National Assembly, provincial councils and a regional parliament for the autonomous Kurdish north. On Wednesday, however, election commission spokesman Farid Ayar said the deadline would not be met because of the recount.

“We don’t know when this will finish,” he said. “This will lead to a little postponement in announcing the results.”


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