Incessant bombing delays drafting
The latest roadside bomb killed two Britons and injured two Iraqi children.
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Bombs killed two British contractors in southern Iraq and seven people in the heart of the capital Saturday as framers of the new constitution were pessimistic they could meet an August deadline for parliament to approve a draft.
The two Britons, who worked for the security firm Control Risks Group, were killed when a roadside bomb exploded alongside a British consulate convoy in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, 340 miles southeast of Baghdad.
Two Iraqi children were wounded seriously when a second device exploded five minutes after the convoy was targeted, police Capt. Mushtaq Kadim said.
Britain has some 8,500 troops in Iraq, mostly in the south. Its military headquarters is based in Basra, where Britain also has a consulate general's office with about 20 employees.
The bombing follows the kidnap-slayings of three Muslim diplomats -- two from Algeria and one from Egypt -- and the attempted kidnappings of a Pakistani and a Bahraini envoy this month. The attacks were claimed by Al-Qaida in Iraq, which is not believed active in heavily Shiite Basra.
In Baghdad, a car bomb exploded Saturday afternoon near the National Theater in the city's Karradah district, killing seven people, including three policemen, police and witnesses said.
The blast also wounded 25, including three policemen.
Also Saturday, a roadside bomb exploded near a U.S. convoy in Baghdad's southern Dora district, hurling a humvee off the highway. A suicide bomber attacked an American patrol in Ramadi, Iraqi police said. There were no reports of U.S. casualties in either attack.
The United States hopes that a new Iraqi constitution will help calm the insurgency by encouraging the country's disaffected Sunni Arab community to abandon the conflict and join the political process. Sunni Arabs form about 20 percent of the population but are the core of the insurgency.
A committee with Shiite, Kurdish and Sunni representatives is working to finish the document in time for parliamentary approval by Aug. 15. Voters will decide whether to ratify the charter in a mid-October referendum.
Committee members say more than 90 percent of the document is complete. But the toughest issues, including federalism, the role of Islam and even the country's name remain in dispute. Some committee members said Saturday it's unlikely the issues will be resolved before the August deadline.
A major hurdle is the role of Islam. Shiites, who make up about 60 percent of Iraq's estimated 27 million people, want Islam to be the main source of legislation. Kurds want it to be one of the sources -- as it is in the interim constitution approved before the Americans restored Iraqi sovereignty in June 2004.
"The Americans and the British are demanding that the constitution be done on time and we are asking the Americans and British to put pressure on the Kurds," said Jawad al-Maliki, a member of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari's Dawa party.
Sheik Khalaf Elaayan, head of the National Dialogue Council, said he escaped assassination Saturday when gunmen wearing military uniforms fired on his car in south Baghdad.
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