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Three Iraqis, Two Finns, GI Killed in Iraq

Gunmen killed two Finnish businessmen as they drove in Baghdad on Monday, the latest foreign civilians to die in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion a year ago. In the southern city of Basra (search), 14 British troops were wounded in two explosions during a demonstration.

British soldiers fired tear gas at about 500 unemployed Iraqi civilians protesting a failure to get jobs with the local customs police, the chief of Basra customs Col. Zafer Abdel-Nabi said. The crowd threw rocks, petrol bombs and a grenade at troops; six civilians were injured, he said.

A British Ministry of Defense spokesman said the soldiers — three of whom were seriously wounded — were evacuated to a nearby British military hospital at Shaibah.

British television showed demonstrators throwing rocks at soldiers riding tanks and standing behind plastic shields. Two Associated Press photographs showed a British soldier running down a street with his head and shoulders on fire.

Some demonstrators shouted slogans in support of Saddam Hussein (search) and condemned Israel's killing of Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin (search) in Gaza City, witnesses said. "We are all sons of Yassin," they shouted.

The two Finns were killed near a highway underpass in west Baghdad, according to Iraqi witnesses. The victims' Iraqi driver was unhurt.

The Finns were part of a nine-person technological delegation visiting the Iraqi capital, said Markus Lyra, a Foreign Ministry official in Helsinki. "The men were on their way to the Ministry of Electricity to make business contacts as part of a larger group," he said.

The assailants fled, and there were no reports of arrests.

The victims were Seppo Haapanen, an employee of Entso, a Finnish company that specializes in electricity and power networks; and Jorma Toronen, of Air-Ix, which builds railways, the Foreign Ministry said.

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja conveyed the government's condolences to their families, saying he was "deeply shocked by the cruel murder."

Outside a U.S. base north of Baghdad, a suicide bomber exploded a car Monday, wounding eight members of the U.S.-trained Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (search), said Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the U.S. military's deputy director of operations.

The explosion occurred near the town of Balad, about 50 miles north of Baghdad. Earlier, Saeed Kadhim, a Civil Defense Corps official, had said two Iraqi civilians were killed and 25 wounded.

In Baghdad's western Abu Ghraib district on Sunday, a bomb exploded near a U.S. patrol, killing a 1st Armored Division soldier and an Iraqi interpreter and wounding three troops, the military said.

On Sunday, rebels fired three rockets toward the U.S.-led coalition headquarters in Baghdad. One hit inside the compound, wounding a U.S. soldier. Two landed outside the heavily guarded area, killing two Iraqi civilians and wounding five, a U.S. official said. Iraqi hospital officials said one person died. U.S. forces later arrested two suspects in the attack, Kimmitt said.

In other developments:

— Iraq's most influential Shiite Muslim cleric told the United Nations the country's U.S.-backed interim constitution was a recipe for the break up of Iraq, it was announced Monday.

Grand Ayatollah al-Husseini al-Sistani, in a letter sent March 17 to the top U.N. envoy in Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, criticized the constitution for its three-part presidency shared by Kurds, Sunni Arabs and Shiite Arabs. The plan "enshrines sectarianism and ethnicity," he wrote, adding that it "puts the country in an unstable situation and could lead to partition and division."

— U.S. troops raided a house Monday in the central town of Tikrit and arrested three members of a family -- one suspected of links to a bomb attack earlier this month that killed two American soldiers, Lt. Col. Jeff Sinclair said.

— In the northern city of Mosul, gunmen shot at a vehicle Monday carrying members of the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, killing one person and wounding three others, hospital officials said. A bystander was also injured.

— Unidentified assailants killed the police chief in the town of Balad on Sunday, Kimmitt said.