Two car bombs exploded today (Saturday) just outside central Baghdad's heavily fortified "Green Zone," killing at least three people and wounding scores of others.
The U.S. military says the explosions hit a police station near a checkpoint leading into the Green Zone, which houses Iraq's interim government and headquarters of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq. The blasts were so close together that witnesses heard only one explosion.
Most of the casualties were policemen.
In separate incidents, U.S. military officials say a U.S. soldier was killed and another wounded (Saturday) when a roadside bomb hit their convoy near Baquba, northeast of Baghdad. And the military says two coalition soldiers died in a car bomb attack near the Jordanian border.
apan's defense chief is heading to southern Iraq today (Saturday) to visit Japanese troops at a camp in Samawa, where they are on a humanitarian assignment, repairing war damage.
The defense minister (Yoshinori Ono) says he wants to see security conditions in Samawa for himself. The mission of the 550 Japanese troops in Iraq is due to end on Dec. 14, but the Tokyo government is expected to extend their deployment.
Japan's soldiers in Iraq, who are all assigned to non-combat duty, have suffered no casualties, but several Japanese civilians in Iraq have been killed. Many Japanese oppose extending the troops' deployment, but Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi says Japan's efforts are necessary to help rebuild Iraq, stabilize the Middle East and bolster Tokyo's alliance with the United States.