BAGHDAD, Iraq – Bombs and drive-by shootings killed 10 people in Iraq on Sunday, and the bodies of seven Iraqi men who apparently had been kidnapped and tortured in captivity were found in three different areas of Baghdad, police said.
The deadliest attack Sunday involved a roadside bomb that exploded on a highway south of the capital, killing three security contractors and wounding two. Police said the casualties were all British, but Britain's Foreign Office said the dead were not British and that it could only confirm that one of the two wounded was.
Despite the violence, Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Nouri al-Maliki continued to meet with politicians to choose his Cabinet for Iraq's new national unity government — one aimed at calming sectarian tensions and luring disaffected Sunni Arabs away from the insurgency.
Al-Maliki has promised to finish the job in the next two weeks, but it could be difficult for him to fill top Cabinet posts with politicians who are not affiliated with parties that have maintained armed militias being blamed for sectarian violence.
In an interview Saturday with America's National Public Radio, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said of al-Maliki: "It's good to have a deadline, but I think perhaps he's being optimistic. It will be tough for him."
The roadside bomb targeting the contractors occurred at 9:30 a.m. about 50 kilometers (30 miles) south of Baghdad, hitting an SUV and killing three people and wounding two, an Iraqi policeman said on condition of anonymity to protect his own security.
The British Embassy in Baghdad and the British Foreign Office in London confirmed the attack and the five casualties. But the British Foreign Office said it could only confirm that one of the victims — a wounded person — was British.
One of the most brutal killings in Baghdad on Sunday occurred in Jurf al-Saghar, a town south of Baghdad. Residents discovered a corpse inside a private car and called police. When several officers arrived to examine the vehicle, explosives packed inside it were set off by remote control, killing one policeman and wounding two, said police Capt. Muthana Khalid.
The bullet-ridden bodies of seven Iraqi men also were found in three different areas of Baghdad. All of them had been tortured and killed in captivity, police said. Such sectarian violence by Sunni Arab and Shiite death squads has become common lately in Baghdad.
In other violence Sunday:
—Four drive-by shootings in Baghdad killed four civilians, including Talib Niama, an employee in the Trade Ministry.
—A roadside bomb hit a U.S. military convoy in central Tikrit, the hometown of former President Saddam Hussein, said police Maj. Ahmed Awad said. He said the blast set a Humvee on fire, causing U.S. casualties, but the U.S. command could not immediately confirm that.
—A roadside bomb in Musayyib, 60 kilometers (40 miles) south of Baghdad, missed a police patrol but killed one civilian and wounded three, said police Capt. Muthana Khalid said.
—In Ramadi, 115 kilometers (70 miles) west of Baghdad, gunmen attacked three policemen traveling in a car carrying the salaries of police in Fallujah, killing one, wounding another, and kidnapping the third with the bag of money, police said.
—Two roadside bombs targeting separate Iraqi police patrols exploded within a half hour of each other in two areas of western Baghdad, wounding two policemen and a civilian driving nearby, police said.
—In the Sadr City Shiite slum of Baghdad, a bomb exploded aboard a minibus near a gas station, wounding three Iraqi civilians, said police Lt. Thair Mahmoud. Many Iraqis pay small fees to travel around the capital in privately owned minibuses.
—A roadside bomb exploded near a U.S. convoy in Rawah, 275 kilometers (175 miles) northwest of Baghdad, witnesses said, but casualties were not immediately reported.
—A roadside bomb targeting an American convoy in Amiriyah, western Baghdad, wounded an Iraqi civilian, said police Capt. Jamel Hussein said.