French Embassy Convoy Hit by Bomb in Baghdad

BAGHDAD -- A roadside bomb exploded Monday morning next to a French Embassy convoy traveling through downtown Baghdad, wounding seven people, Iraqi officials said.

A police officer said the bomb which was exploded at about 8:30 a.m. lightly damaged one of the three armored SUVs in the capital's commercial Karrada area.

Four Iraqi guards working for a private security company employed by the embassy and three civilian bystanders were wounded, the officer said. It was not immediately known whether any French expatriate staff were in the convoy when the bomb exploded.

Monday's attack was part of a series attacks launched by militants in the capital during the rush hour.

At about 7 a.m., gunmen in speeding car shot and killed with pistols fitted with silencers a policeman in the southwestern Amil area, another police officer said.

Nearly an hour later, a parked car bomb targeted a passing police patrol in the northeastern Shaab neighborhood, killing one policeman and wounding four others, a police officer said.

And three civilian bystanders were wounded in central Jadriyah when a roadside bomb missed a police patrol, police said.

Three hospital officials confirmed the casualties. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

While violence is well below what it had been during the early years that followed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion, militants are again stepping up deadly attacks. That has led to concerns about what happens when the 47,000 remaining U.S. troops are withdrawn by the end of this year.

Iraqi government and other political factions are debating whether to keep some American forces in the country beyond the Dec. 31 deadline.