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BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- One American soldier was slightly injured Tuesday when an apparent grenade exploded as a U.S. convoy was passing over a bridge in northern Baghdad, witnesses said.
Witnesses said the explosive device appeared to have been thrown or fired from a passing vehicle on a bridge over the Beirut Square traffic circle in the city's Nile neighborhood.
U.S. vehicles flooded the area searching for the attacker. Residents said it was the first such attack in the quiet residential and commercial district.
The U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council said Tuesday it would study the reinstatement of members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party to their jobs.
The council said ministries would form committees examine whether employees who once belonged to the now-outlawed party should be reinstated to their civil service jobs.
However, on Monday, Charles Heatley, spokesman for the American-led Coalition Provisional Authority, said there would not be an appeals mechanism for individuals who lost their jobs because they were members in the Baath Party.
Heatley said that while there was a "procedure for exemptions which could be considered on the basis of whether people are both essential to their jobs, and whether they did not, in fact, commit any crimes in their previous employment ... there've been very few cases of those exemptions granted."
On May 16, the top U.S. civilian administrator, L. Paul Bremer, issued a decree barring top-ranking Baath Party members from any public position, a process now referred to as deBaathification -- whether in universities, hospitals or minor government posts.
Since then, ministries and government departments have seen a purging of dozens of Baathists.
During the 34-year-rule of the Baath Party, as many as 1.5 million of Iraq's 24 million people were members. But only about 25,000 to 50,000 had full-fledged party positions -- the elite targeted by U.S. officials.
The Baath Party was founded in neighboring Syria in 1943 and spread quickly across the Arab world, promoting Arab unity with a repressive, Soviet-style party structure. It ruled Iraq for several months in 1963, and then took full control of the country in 1968. Through the years, though, it lost much of its original ideology and gradually became little more than a tool for Saddam Hussein's control over Iraq.
The decision also said employees included in the deBaathification law were now allowed to apply for "early retirement benefits."
In New York, a U.N. spokesman said more than 30 U.N. international staff pulled out of Iraq over the weekend after the U.N. chief ordered additional staff cutbacks due to security concerns, leaving just 50 foreign employees behind.
The number of U.N. workers in Iraq will continue to fluctuate because "there will be some movements out, and there's going to be occasional movements back in," spokesman Fred Eckhard said at a news briefing Monday.
The United Nations had 300 international staff in Baghdad and another 300 elsewhere in Iraq before a car bomb on Aug. 19 killed 22 people at the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan later ordered the number reduced to 42 in Baghdad and 44 in the north.
Annan ordered a further cutbacks last week following a second bombing, but did not say how many of the remaining staffers would leave.
In announcing the latest cutbacks last week, Eckhard said the United Nation's humanitarian work should be able to continue, with limited international supervision, using the 4,233 Iraqis working for the United Nations.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)