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[casi] Bomb at Italian Base in Iraq Kills Six

Bomb at Italian Base in Iraq Kills Six

By SAMEER N. YACOUB, Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq - An explosion rocked the headquarters
of the Italian Carabinieri police in the southern
Iraqi city of Nasiriyah on Wednesday, killing at least
six Italians and possibly trapping others under the
debris, Carabinieri said in Rome.

Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi called the
bombing a "terrorist act."

An explosive device went off at about 10:40 a.m. Iraqi
time at the Carabinieri's multinational specialist
unit in the southern city of Nasiriyah, the Italian
paramilitary police said in a statement. The statement
said that the explosion occurred in front of the base,
near the Iraqi chamber of commerce (news - web sites).

A Carabinieri official, speaking on condition of
anonymity, said that six Italians were dead,
confirming Italian media reports.

Maj. Roberto Riccardi, an official with the
Carabinieri in Rome, said the building was in flames
and it was feared that some people were trapped under
the rubble.

He said details were difficult to come by because
communication had been severed.

"We cannot exclude the possibility that there are
soldiers under the rubble," he said by telephone.
The Carabinieri also said some Iraqis also may have
been wounded.

Italy has sent about 2,500 troops to help the
reconstruction in Iraq (news - web sites). About 300
Carabinieri are based in the Nasiriyah camp, along
with 110 Romanians. Everyone was believed to have been
inside the building at the time of the blast, because
it occurred early in the morning, Riccardi said.

Since August, vehicle bombs have targeted several
international buildings, including the United Nations
(news - web sites) headquarters, the offices of the
international Red Cross, the Baghdad Hotel and the
Turkish and Jordanian embassies in Baghdad.

Nasiriyah, a Shiite city, had been relatively quite in
recent months, although it was the scene of heavy
fighting during the war. It was where the 507th
Maintenance Company was ambushed in March and where a
number of Americans were captured, including Jessica

Italian troops serving in the U.S.-led mulitnational
force have suffered no combat-related fatalities.
The Italian official heading up U.S. efforts to
recover Iraq's looted antiquities, Pietro Cordone, was
in a car that came under mistaken U.S. fire in
September in northern Iraq. Cordone's Iraqi
interpreter was killed in the shooting.

Earlier Wednesday, a member of the Iraqi Governing
Council said the body was not to blame for the lack of
progress in drafting a new constitution that would
enable democratic elections and a return to Iraqi

The comments by Mahmoud Othman, a Sunni Kurd member of
the U.S.-appointed body, follow reports that President
Bush (news - web sites)'s national security advisers
are frustrated by the council's performance and are
consulting with Iraq's top American administrator, L.
Paul Bremer, over how to break the constitutional

"Such accusations are unreasonable and do no good for
the country," Othman said. "The Governing Council
should not alone bear the responsibility of any

Othman, who has been a member of the 25-seat body
since it was formed by the U.S.-led occupation
authorities in July, acknowledged that the
constitutional process was moving too slowly but said
Iraq's U.S.-led administration bore much of the blame.

"This is supposed to be a partnership based on
equality," Othman said in an interview. "But when
Americans want to find solution for their problems,
they do it in any way that suits them."

Bremer  who was abruptly summoned to Washington on
Tuesday  attended a White House meeting with
Secretary of State Colin Powell (news - web sites),
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, National
Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice (news - web sites)
and other key officials.

Administration officials expressed disappointment in
the council's work but said Bush was not about to
disband it.

"The notion that we are about to throw the council to
the wolves is exaggerated," a senior administration
official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"But there is a need to put some energy into the
political transition."

U.S. officials believe that key members of the Iraqi
council are stalling in hopes of winning concessions
from American leaders under political pressure to turn
over power to the Iraqis. In contrast, Bremer wants to
transfer sovereignty after the Iraqis draft a
constitution and hold national elections.

Othman denied that members of the body were
intentionally stalling work on the new charter in
order to exert pressure on Bremer.

"It is true that council members are demanding more
powers, but they are not trying to use the slowness in
the process of work as a weapon to gain concessions,"
he said.

The Iraqis have yet to agree on how to choose
delegates to draw up a constitution.

Some council members are also pushing for an
Iraqi-controlled paramilitary force to fight the
insurgents, something Bremer opposes without coalition
oversight and control.

One member of the body, Kurdish leader Massoud
Barzani, recommended that it be radically reformed.
"There are deficiencies in (the performance of) the
Governing Council, which need radical reform," Barzani
told the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat in an
interview published Wednesday.

"Even with these deficiencies, I don't see a better
alternative to this council  at least for the time
being," said Barzani, who leads the Kurdistan
Democratic Party.

As the dispute over the Bush administration's policy
of achieving a transition to Iraqi authority came to a
head on Tuesday, guerrillas again attacked the U.S.
headquarters in Baghdad.

The Coalition Provisional Authority said mortar
shelling late Tuesday caused no damage to the
headquarters, located in the Republican Palace.

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