BAGHDAD – A series of bombings, including one that narrowly missed a senior Oil Ministry official and two that went off in a crowd during Baghdad's morning rush, killed 10 people on Monday, officials said.
Security has improved in Baghdad since the Sunni revolt against Al Qaeda and the routing of Shiite militias in Baghdad and southern Iraq last spring, but scattered bombings still occur almost daily.
Monday's explosions largely appeared to target Iraqi police, soldiers and officials rather than U.S. troops.
Two bombs — one of them hidden in a trash can — exploded in Tahariyat square in central Baghdad during the morning rush hour, killing six people, injuring 21 and damaging nearby shops in the predominantly Shiite neighborhood. Ten of the wounded were policemen.
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Elsewhere in the capital, a bomb exploded at the home of Abdul-Sahib Salman Qutub, one of three senior undersecretaries in the Oil Ministry, as he left for work. Qutub suffered minor injuries, but his driver was gravely wounded, ministry spokesman Assem Jihad said.
Another bomb exploded around noon near a police patrol in west Baghdad, injuring one policeman and a civilian, while another officer died and six others were wounded when their patrol hit a roadside bomb in east Baghdad, police said.
In Baqouba, some 35 miles northeast of the capital, a car bomb exploded in a parking lot across the street from the Diyala provincial council headquarters, killing two policemen and a 10-year-old girl, authorities said.
Nine others — three of them policemen — were wounded in the blast, which occurred while a conference on defending journalism and freedom of expression was going on inside. None of the meeting's participants were injured in the attack.
The police officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information.
Also Monday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki pledged to protect Iraq's Christian minority, which has faced a spate of attacks this month in the northern city of Mosul, 225 miles northwest of Baghdad. Some 13,000 Christians fled the city this month, although some are slowly returning home.
"We all feel ashamed that such disgusting events take place in Iraq where one man kills another for reasons of identity or religion and ethnic background," al-Maliki said in a speech at a conference on Islamic-Christian dialogue.
"We will pay all efforts to keep our Christian brothers honored and respected in Iraq for they are an essential component of its society," he added.
The Iraqi Parliament on Monday approved legislation restoring guaranteed seats on provincial councils to Christians and other small religious communities, the last major hurdle to holding provincial elections next year.
But the version that won approval granted only one seat to Christians on the councils of the provinces of Baghdad, Ninevah and Basra. Other seats went to small religious groups — Yazidis, Shabaks and Sabeans.
Two other versions, one of them put forward by the U.N., would have allocated more seats to Christians in Baghdad and Ninevah provinces.
"The result indicates that there is a religious and nationalist fanaticism," said Christian lawmaker Younadem Kana. "This law as it stands is an insult to the communities rather than being fair to them."
The bill, which was approved by 106 of the 150 lawmakers who attended the session, now goes to the presidential council for approval. Kana demanded that the council, which includes the president and two vice presidents, veto the measure.