17 dead in attacks as Blair meet Iraqi PM
Car bombs and drive-by shootings killed 17 people Monday, including seven police officers. The violence also came as British Prime Minister Tony Blair became the first world leader to visit Baghdad since the national unity government took office two days ago.
A roadside bomb killed four police officers after exploding next to a patrol in Musayyib, about 40 miles south of Baghdad, police Col. Ahmed Mijwel said, according to the AP. A car bomb went off in Baghdad between a clinic and a market in a Shiite neighborhood, killing four people and injuring another nine, 1st Lt. Haider Hamil said.
Another bomb killed five people and injured four people when it exploded next to a patrol in southeastern Baghdad's Zafaraniya neighborhood, said police Capt. Ali Mahdi. Another roadside bomb missed a police patrol in eastern Baghdad Baladiyat's neighborhood, injuring two civilians, police Lt. Ali Mitaab said.
Officials said armed men killed a police colonel in Samarra, north of Baghdad, an employee of a cell phone operator in Baqouba, and the general director of the youth ministry in Baghdad.
The body of a police captain who had been shot in the head was found in the Aziziya area, south of Baghdad, officials said.
Blair, who held a news conference after a meeting with Iraqi premier Nuri al-Maliki, said establishing democracy had taken longer than expected. According to the AP, he refused to set a timetable for the withdrawal of the 8,000 British troops in Iraq.
"It has been longer and harder than any of us would have wanted it to be, but this is a new beginning and we want to see what you want to see, which is Iraq and the Iraqi people to able to take charge of their own destiny and write the next chapter of Iraqi history themselves," he said.
Al-Maliki has promised to use "maximum force" if necessary to end the violence.