A convoy of defense ministry personnel in Iraq has been targeted, with al Qaeda widely suspected of carrying out the attack. The roadside bombing followed a fresh push by the Iraqi government against Islamists.
Iraqi officials said that a blast had impacted the Iraqi defense minster's convoy on Tuesday, wounding two guards. The minister himself was said to have escaped unhurt.
The roadside bomb hit Saadun al-Dulaimi's convoy as it travelled between Fallujah and Ramadi, spokesman Mohammed al-Askari said. Al-Askari did not specify whether or not al-Dulaimi was travelling in the convoy at the time of the attack, although a police officer told the AP news agency that he was.
Officials from the Iraqi Defense Ministry did not initially comment.
The bombing is the latest coup for al Qaeda after five senior Iraqi army officers, including a divisional commander, Maj. Gen Mohammed al-Karawi, were killed in an attack on Saturday. Al-Karawi had been leading a search for al Qaeda militants in the area.
The Iraqi government responded with an operation to further crack down on Islamists following that attack, with two militant camps said to have been destroyed on Monday. Al-Askari told the AFP news agency that aerial photographs and other information showed the "arrival of weapons and advanced equipment from Syria to the desert of western Anbar and the border of Nineveh province."
Such developments appeared to have spurred on al Qaeda efforts along the border with Syria, al-Askari said.
More than 6,650 people have been killed in violence in Iraq since the beginning of this year, according to figures from the news agency AFP.
rc/se (AFP, AP, Reuters)