BAGHDAD, Iraq – Four car bombings and other insurgent attacks Monday killed 10 people, and at least 16 Iraqis were wounded after militants opened fire on authorities trying to evacuate the injured from one of the blasts.
The new wave of attacks in Baghdad, Samarra and Tikrit came as radical anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (search) met with the Russia ambassador and tribal chiefs from the insurgent hotbeds of Fallujah (search) and Ramadi. Russia and al-Sadr fiercely opposed the war.
The meetings in the Shiite holy city of Najaf (search), south of the capital, seemed to be a sign of al-Sadr's desire to return to active politics after going into isolation last fall following clashes between his militia — the Imam al-Mahdi Army (search) — and U.S. troops.
Al-Sadr has in recent weeks been trying to mediate between an influential Sunni Arab association and a Shiite militia that have traded accusations of targeting each others supporters and clerics.
Ambassador Vladimir Chamov was making the first visit by a Russian envoy to al-Sadr's office since the U.S.-led war began two years ago.
"The meeting was in the framework of creating contacts between the Russian Embassy and the Iraqi parties and movements and we are pleased with the results of our talks," Chamov told reporters. "We talked about what the Iraqi people are facing and what's taking place in Iraq, including the American presence and terrorist attacks."
In one such attack, a car bomb targeting a U.S. convoy in Baghdad missed and instead killed a 6-year-old girl and injured another five Iraqis.
In Baghdad's western Radwanya district, another Iraqi army soldier was killed and three were injured by a car bomb, hospital officials said.
Police have also found the bullet-riddled bodies of 28 people — many thought to be Sunni Arabs — buried in shallow graves or dumped along streets in Baghdad. At least one was identified as a security guard at a leading Sunni charitable organization.
A car bomber blew himself up about 9 a.m. in the Khadra neighborhood of Samarra, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, as an American-Iraqi patrol was passing by, police Lt. Qassim Mohammed said.
As emergency crews gathered, a roadside bomb detonated and gunmen in two speeding cars also opened fire on the crowd, leading to a more than 30 minute exchange of gunfire. Three policemen were killed in the explosion and a total of 16 civilians were injured, Mohammed said.
In Saddam Hussein's nearby hometown of Tikrit, another car bomber killed two police officers and injured six civilians when he blew himself up after being surrounded by security forces, police Lt. Col. Tariq Alwan Al-Jibouri said. A firefighter was also killed, he said, but the circumstances of his death were unclear.
The spiraling violence and rising U.S. death toll — it has pushed past 1,700 — comes despite heavy counterinsurgent crackdowns by Iraqi and American forces in Baghdad and around the country that continued Monday with hundreds of suspected militants being rounded up in the past two weeks.
Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., said he will join congressmen introducing legislation this week calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.
"When I look at the number of men and women who have been killed — it's almost 1,700 now, in addition to close to 12,000 have been severely wounded — and I just feel that the reason of going in for weapons of mass destruction, the ability of the Iraqis to make a nuclear weapon, that's all been proven that it was never there," Jones, who voted for the war, said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."
"I feel that we've done about as much as we can do," he said.
The four American soldiers attached to Marines units died Saturday in two roadside bombings west of Baghdad, increasing to at least 1,701 the number of U.S. forces who have died in Iraq since the war began in 2003. The number includes five military civilians.
South Korean Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung, meanwhile, said Monday that Seoul is likely to seek an extension of its deployment of more than 3,000 troops in Iraq.
Yoon said he believes Iraq will need multinational forces until the middle of next year before its own security forces can take over.
Asked whether the government plans to seek lawmakers' approval to extend the deployment, Yoon said: "At the moment, there is a big possibility it will go in that direction toward the end of this year."
The bodies of the 28 men were discovered as Iraq's Shiite-led government pressed to open disarmament talks with insurgents responsible for relentless violence that has taken on ominous sectarian overtones with recurring tit-for-tat killings.
At least 943 people, including U.S. military personnel, have been killed since the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari (search) announced his government six weeks ago — an event that many thought would curb the violence.
Lt. Ayad Othman said a shepherd found the buried bodies of 20 men Friday in the Nahrawan desert, 20 miles east of Baghdad. "All were blindfolded and their hands were tied behind their backs and shot from behind," he said.
Witnesses claimed the slain men were Sunnis, according to a statement from the influential Sunni organization, the Association of Muslim Scholars. No details were provided to support the claim.
"Such crimes aim to inflame sectarian fires," the association said on its Web site.
The bodies of eight men shot in the head were found Sunday in two different locations in Baghdad's predominantly Shiite northern suburb of Shula, police Capt. Majed Abdul Aziz said. The bodies could not immediately be identified.
In other violence Monday:
— An Iraqi army patrol shot and killed an Iraqi man in Fallujah, the town's hospital reported.
— Gunmen killed a female Interior Ministry employee in Baghdad's Sadr City district, police said.
— Police found the body of an unidentified man in his 40s in Sadr City. Police said he had his hands tied and had been shot.