At least 18 Iraqis were killed and dozens wounded Saturday
in car bombings outside two police stations in and near the
town of Baqubah, 65 kilometers northeast of Baghdad. A civilian
cargo plane may have been hit by a surface-to-air missile near
the Baghdad Airport.
The first car bomb exploded in front of a Baqubah police
station early Saturday.
Witnesses say the driver of the vehicle raised little suspicion
as he approached the police station's gate and detonated
his explosives. The blast killed and injured more than a
dozen policemen and civilians. Minutes later, a suicide bomber
sped his car toward a police station in the town of Khan
Bani Saad, 20 kilometers south of Baqubah. Witnesses there
say he blew up the vehicle as Iraqi police opened fire. The
U.S. military says more than a dozen policemen and civilians
were killed and wounded in that attack.
Since Wednesday, there have been at least five car bombings
in Iraq, targeting Iraqis who work with the U.S.-led coalition.
On Wednesday, a car bomb exploded outside the home of a pro-coalition
tribal leader in Ramadi in central Iraq. A day later, a suicide
car bomber struck the offices of a Kurdish political party
allied with the United States, in the northern city of Kirkuk.
Baqubah and Khan Bani Saad both are part of the "Sunni Triangle," north
and west of Baghdad, where anti-coalition resistance has
been fierce for months.
Meanwhile, an Airbus cargo plane made an emergency landing
at Baghdad International Airport Saturday, with its left
wing on fire.
A spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority, Charles
Heatley, says the plane had departed the airport for Bahrain
when the fire forced the plane to turn around. He says it
is not yet known what caused the blaze.
"As far as we know, there was some damage to one of the
engines. It is not entirely clear exactly what that was caused
from, until the investigation is complete," he said.
Residents around the airport report seeing smoke trails
heading toward the airplane, leading some officials here
to believe that the plane may have been hit by a surface-to-air
If so, it would be the first time a fixed-wing aircraft
has been hit by a missile in Iraq.
Because of a persistent missile threat, Baghdad airport
has never been fully opened to civilian flights since U.S.
forces captured the airport in April. Airport officials say
there have been at least eight attempts to shoot down military
planes with surface-to-air missiles in the past seven months.
In recent weeks, insurgents have shot down as many as five
U.S. helicopters, using shoulder-fired missiles and rocket-propelled
grenades, killing some 40 U.S. soldiers.