Timed series of car bombs kills 41 in southern Iraq

BAGHDAD - Three car bombs exploded in quick succession yesterday at the main market of a southern Shiite city, killing at least 41 people and wounding 150 others, police said. It was the deadliest attack against Iraqi civilians in four months.

The devastating blasts in Amarah, an oil-producing city largely spared from sectarian bloodshed, occurred days before Britain was expected to hand over a neighboring southern province - the last remaining under British control.

Fears are rising about whether Iraq's mostly Shiite security forces can control Shiite militias competing for power in the oil-rich south, even as U.S. officials report dramatic falls in violence nationwide.

No group claimed responsibility for the Amarah bombings, which appeared to be bomb-rigged cars rather than suicide attacks. The blasts occurred minutes apart and seemed to be timed to bring maximum carnage.

_ In Washington yesterday, the parents of an Iraq war veteran who committed suicide after returning from the war and members of Congress on questioned why there's not a comprehensive tracking system of suicide among Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.

Mike Bowman, of Forreston, Ill., said his son, Spc. Timothy Bowman, 23, is a member of the "unknown fallen" not counted in statistics. Bowman said he considers his son a "KBA" - killed because of action.

"They don't want to know this, it looks to me," said House Veterans' Affairs chairman Bob Filner, D-Calif. "This could be tracked."

Algiers bomb toll at 31;

rescue efforts continue

ALGIERS, Algeria - Rescuers yesterday pulled the living and the dead from the crumpled remains of U.N. offices in Algiers that were bombed by an al Qaeda affiliate. Victims included U.N. staff from around the world, police officers and law students.

The Interior Ministry said 31 people had been killed in Tuesday's twin truck bombings, as the official death toll slowly mounted.

Rescue work was focusing on five or six people who were in the basement of the U.N. building at the time of the attack and who could still be alive, said Djamal Khoudi, chief of the emergency team.

Earlier in the day, seven survivors were pulled from beneath chunks of concrete, Khoudi said. One 40-year-old woman underwent amputation of both legs, he said.

The attacks - and their targeting of the United Nations - drew international condemnation. Islamic insurgents have been battling Algeria's government for 15 years, but have largely focused on symbols of Algeria's military-backed government and civilians. The other target of Tuesday's attack was Algeria's Constitutional Council.

Girl's pals say dad killed her for not wearing Muslim garb

BRAMPTON, Ontario - A Canadian cab driver is charged with strangling his 16-year-old daughter because, friends said, she refused to wear a Muslim head scarf and follow conservative religious values.

Aqsa Parvez, whose family is of Pakistani origin, was rushed to the hospital in critical condition Monday after her father made an emergency call in which he claimed to have killed her, police said. She later died. He is being held without bail.

Police spokesman Wayne Patterson refused to confirm that the killing had been over the hijab, the traditional Muslim head scarf. A lawyer for the father said there was "more to the story than just cultural issues."

But friends said Aqsa Parvez was planning to leave home in Mississauga, Ontario, because of tensions with her family over her decision to stop wearing her head scarf at high school. They said that she often had bruises on her arms and that she predicted days before her death that her father would "kill her." *

-Associated Press