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Saturday, November 06, 2004 - Page updated at 12:28 A.M.

Iraq Notebook
Twenty-four killed, dozens hurt in Samarra


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SAMARRA, Iraq - Three car bombs exploded in Samarra and insurgents attacked three police stations in the Iraqi city today, killing at least 24 people and wounding dozens, police and health officials said.

Health officials said at least 20 people were killed and a similar number wounded in two car bomb blasts that targeted the town hall and a joint police and National Guard checkpoint in the Sunni Muslim city.

Police said rebels carried out simultaneous attacks on three police stations, killing four policemen, wounding 17 and capturing 10.

A third car bomb exploded later, targeting a U.S. convoy that was trying to reach the scene of the first two bombings, police said. They had no word on casualties in that blast.

Blackwill leaving Iraq policy post

WASHINGTON — Robert Blackwill, the tough-minded diplomat brought to the White House last year to take charge of the administration's troubled Iraq policy, unexpectedly announced his resignation yesterday.

Blackwill had been mentioned prominently in speculation about President Bush's second-term foreign-policy team, with some observers pegging him as a possible successor to national-security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

But in an e-mail to colleagues on the National Security Council staff yesterday afternoon, Blackwill said he had told Rice several weeks ago that he would continue working through the U.S. presidential election but leave soon afterward.

Blackwill arrived at the White House in the summer of 2003, when the administration was riven by disputes between the Pentagon and State Department and it was becoming clear that the effort in Iraq was going off track.

He has been widely credited with helping to reshape administration policy by focusing on ending the U.S.-led occupation and establishing an interim Iraqi government.

White House officials said Blackwill's departure should not be interpreted as a sign of disarray or disagreement in the Iraq policy.
 
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Two blasts in Samarra kill eight, hurt at least 20

SAMARRA, Iraq — Two car bombs exploded in the Iraqi town of Samarra today, killing eight people and wounding at least 20, police said.

The blasts targeted the town hall and a nearby police checkpoint in Samarra, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, police said. Most of the dead appeared to be Iraqi civilians, they said.

Two different outcomes in "stop-loss" cases

NEW YORK — An Army Reserve captain who sued the government for trying to force him into service in Iraq after he resigned has won an honorable discharge, his lawyer said yesterday.

In a similar case in California, however, a federal judge declined to block the deployment to Iraq of an Army National Guardsman who said his duty time was wrongly extended under the military "stop-loss" policy.

The cases reflect a sensitive issue over how the United States maintains its force levels in Iraq.

Jay Ferriola, 31, of New York, had filed suit seeking to keep the Army from enforcing an order returning him to active duty. Ferriola's lawyer, Barry Slotnick, who had called the Army's order an illegal "back-door" draft, said he dropped the suit yesterday after the Army gave his client an honorable discharge.

In the California case, a National Guardsman listed in court documents as John Doe had filed a lawsuit last month challenging the stop-loss policy. The military has extended the man's time in arms and is to send him to Iraq in two weeks.

The federal judge in Sacramento yesterday denied Doe's request for a preliminary injunction to block the deployment on the grounds Doe's original period of enlistment was not due to expire until April 30, 2005.

ALSO

Iraq's election commission yesterday set Jan. 27 as the date for the nation's first legislative elections. The date is expected to be approved by the Cabinet.

The U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi announced yesterday that the former Soviet republic of Georgia, which has 159 soldiers in Iraq, would increase that number to 850.

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