BAGHDAD, Iraq – A car bomb exploded outside the home of a tribal leader in a city west of the capital on Wednesday, killing one child in yet another attack aimed at a U.S. ally.
The explosion in Ramadi (search) targeted the house of Sheik Amer Ali Suleiman, according to his cousin, Yasser Ali. Suleiman was not injured but at least one child was killed, he said.
Suleiman is a leader of the Duleim tribe, one of the largest Sunni Muslim tribes in Iraq. He is a member of the city council and is close to the Americans.
A U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad confirmed there was a car bombing, but had no further details. The press office of the 82nd Airborne Division (search), which is based in Ramadi, was not answering its telephone.
Ramadi, 60 miles west of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad (search), is part of the "Sunni Triangle" where anti-U.S. attacks are concentrated. Rebels have repeatedly attacked police stations and Iraqis perceived to be cooperating with the occupation.
Meanwhile, military officials said Wednesday that American jets unleashed some of the biggest bombs in the U.S. inventory against suspected insurgent targets in central Iraq.
A new offensive against rebels, dubbed "Operation Iron Hammer" began Tuesday and continued Wednesday with sounds of firing in the capital. An American general said the offensive was to intimidate the guerrillas by "planting the seeds of doubt in their minds" that they can ever overcome U.S. power.
Two 2,000-pound, satellite-guided bombs were dropped late Tuesday near Baqouba, 30 miles northeast of Baghdad, on "camps suspected to have been used for bomb-making," said Maj. Gordon Tate, a spokesman for the 4th Infantry Division.
Jets also dropped 1,000-pound bombs on "terrorist targets" near the northern city of Kirkuk, he said without elaborating.
Elsewhere, insurgents fired on a U.S. supply convoy north of Samara on Wednesday, witnesses said. American troops returning fire killed two Iraqis, including a teenager, the witnesses said.
There was no confirmation from the U.S. military, but the sounds of gunfire could be heard during a telephone conversation with witnesses.
A roadside bomb exploded Wednesday in the southern city of Basra, damaging a British civilian vehicle but causing no casualties, according to British spokesman Maj. Hisham Halawi.
In recent days, U.S. forces have used heavy artillery, battle tanks, attack helicopters, F-16 fighter-bombers and AC-130 gunships to pound targets in central and northern Iraq.
In Baghdad, Brig. Gen. Martin Dempsey, commander of the 1st Armored Division, told The Associated Press the offensive was designed to demonstrate the effectiveness of U.S. firepower.
"We felt that the enemy had begun to act with a little more impunity than we want him to have," said Dempsey, whose troops are responsible for security in the capital. "We've just raised the stakes a bit by planting the seeds of doubt in their minds."
Iraqi civilians living near the affected areas have expressed outrage over the use of such overwhelming force.
"They (the Americans) called on us from the tanks to stay at home," Hamziya Ali, a housewife living near the plant, said Wednesday. "But me and my children spent the night shaking. We do not want to be their targets."
Some senior U.S. officers have privately expressed fears that people in Iraq and the Arab world will see the escalation of attacks against insurgents as no different from Israeli crackdowns on the Palestinians.
Dempsey, like other senior commanders in Iraq, said he believes the attacks against American forces have been carried out primarily by supporters of Saddam Hussein without any significant participation by foreign fighters.
He also expressed doubt the conflict would escalate into a general uprising. Some Iraqis have speculated that unemployment, estimated between 60 percent and 70 percent, is driving more people into the insurgency.
"I don't think I've seen any sign of a nascent insurgency by disenchanted youths," Dempsey said.
The aggressive tactics followed an upsurge in guerrilla activity and a sharp rise in the number of coalition casualties. About 70 allied soldiers have died in November, already making it the deadliest month since April, when 73 troops died. President Bush declared major combat over May 1.
Wednesday's car bombing followed rebel threats against Iraqis who cooperate with the U.S. occupation.
On Tuesday, gunmen assassinated the Education Ministry's director for Diwaniyah province, Hmud Kadhim, government officials said Wednesday. No group claimed responsibility.
U.S. authorities offered a $10 million reward Wednesday for information leading to the capture of one of Saddam's top aides who is believed to be behind some of the attacks on coalition forces.
Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, No. 6 on the list of 55 most-wanted Iraqis, was the vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council and was in charge of Iraq's northern defenses shortly before the U.S.-led war began March 20.