Thursday, June 26, 2008

Iraq War Bulletin: Deadly Car Bomb Attacks; Dispute Over US Airstrikes; 25 Occupation Soldiers Reported Killed in June

Thursday, June 26, 2008
17:12 Mecca time, 14:12 GMT
News Middle East

Deadly car bombs hit Iraq

Two car bombs have killed at least 35 people in separate attacks in Iraq.

The northern city of Mosul was hit by an explosion near a government office on Thursday, killing 20 people and injuring another 62, Duraid Kashmola, the governor said.

A suspected suicide bomber killed at least 15 people in a different attack on a tribal council building in Iraq's al-Anbar province.

The leader of the council in the town of Karmah, about 30km west of the capital Baghdad, was among the dead, police said on Thursday.

At least 30 other people were reportedly wounded in the explosion, Colonel Dawood al-Marawi, police spokesman in nearby Falluja, told the Reuters news agency.

Kamal al-Ayash, spokesman for the Fallujah town council, said that the bomber blew himself up as the council leader was meeting senior members of a so-called "Awakening" group.

"At least 11 senior members of the Awakening group have been killed," he told the AFP news agency.

'Awakening groups'

The "Awakening" groups of Sunni tribes have been largely credited with subduing the violence in al-Anbar by forming local armed groups to fight those loyal to al-Qaeda in Iraq.

Police told the AP news agency that the bomber entered the building through a back door, but it was unclear how he managed to evade security.

Colonel Fawzi Fraih, civil defence director of al-Anbar province, told AP that the group was meeting some Americans when the attack occured.

However, the US military did not immediately confirm whether any Americans were inside the building at the time.

The attack came just days before Iraqi forces were due to take control of security in the province from the US military.

Al-Anbar, the largest province in Iraq, would be the tenth of Iraq's 18 provinces to be handed back to Iraqi forces.

Suicide bomber kills 15 in Iraq's Anbar province

RAMADI, Iraq (AFP) - - A suicide bomber Thursday blew himself in a municipal office in western Iraq, killing the local mayor and at least 14 senior members of an anti-Qaeda front, Iraqi officials told AFP.

The attack, in which more than 20 people were wounded, took place in the town of Garma, near the former Sunni rebel bastion of Fallujah in Anbar province, Fallujah town council spokesman Kamal al-Ayash told AFP.

Ayash said the bomber detonated his explosives in the office of local mayor Kamal al-Abdali as he was huddled in a meeting with members of an anti-Qaeda "Awakening" front around noon (0900 GMT).

"Abdali was one of those killed in the attack," Ayash said.

A security official in the interior ministry said at least 15 people were killed and more than 20 wounded in the attack. The toll was confirmed by a defence ministry official.

The bombing marks the second attack on a municipal office in Iraq this week.

On Tuesday, the office of the district advisory council of Baghdad's Shiite bastion of Sadr City was bombed in an attack which killed four Americans -- two soldiers and two civilian employees.

The Garma attack comes just days before Anbar province, once a hotbed of Sunni militancy, is due to be transferred by the US military to the control of Iraqi security forces.

US military spokesman in Baghdad Lieutenant David Russell told AFP on Monday the security of the province was to be transferred to Iraqi control in 10 days.

Anbar would be the tenth of Iraq's 18 provinces to be handed back to Iraqi forces by the US-led coalition amid a push to transfer security control of the entire country back to Baghdad.

The province, the country's largest, was the epicentre of a brutal Sunni Arab-led fight against the US military after the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime in 2003.

In the early years of the insurgency, US forces fought raging battles in the province, especially in the capital Ramadi and in Fallujah.

Fallujah became a symbol of the ultra-violent insurgency before it was virtually razed to the ground in November 2004 by a US military assault launched to seize control of the city.

The US military has lost 1,295 service members in the province since the 2003 invasion of Iraq, second only to Baghdad where it lost 1,308 troops, according to the independent website .

The website says November 2004, when 137 troops were killed when the Fallujah assault was launched, remains the deadliest month for the military in Iraq.

The violence in the province started ebbing in late 2006 when local Sunni tribes, weary of Al-Qaeda's extremism and brutal methods, switched allegiance and formed a common front to chase them out.

The front became known as Sahwa or "Awakening". Most of its members are former Sunni Arab insurgents who fought US forces after the toppling of Saddam Hussein's regime.

But since they sided with the US troops in late 2006, violence has fallen dramatically in Anbar, making the province a symbol of stability in Iraq.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008
20:23 Mecca time, 17:23 GMT
News Middle East

Fatal blast rocks Sadr City

The blast occurred in Iraqi Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr's stronghold

At least 10 people including two US soldiers and two American government officials have been killed in a bomb attack in Baghdad.

Six Iraqis were also killed and eight people wounded in the blast that rocked Sadr City on Tuesday, an Iraqi security official said.

One of the civilians was a US defence department worker and the other a US state department employee.

The area is a stronghold of Iraqi Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr's al-Mahdi Army and the blast took place as local elections were set to take place.

"We were to elect new members to replace some of our old colleagues from the movement of Muqtada al-Sadr who recently left the council," a district council member said.

US officials and soldiers were at the district council office when the attack occurred.

Suspect held

The US military said in a statement: "[An] individual was caught by coalition forces fleeing the scene and tested positive for explosive residue."

The attack came a day after two American soldiers were killed and three wounded as they were leaving the council office of Madain town to the south of Baghdad.

The recent decrease in violence in Baghdad and other regions of Iraq has led to an increased presence of US soldiers on the streets which has also made them easier targets for attacks, especially in areas such as Sadr City where US troops fought raging battles earlier this year.

Hundreds of people were killed when Iraqi and US forces clashed with fighters from the Mahdi Army in Sadr City in March and April before a truce was declared on May 10.

The latest deaths of US soldiers bring the overall losses of the military in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion to 4,106, according to an AFP tally based on independent website .

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Baghdad office bombing kills 10

The aftermath of the attack at a council office in a Shia area of Baghdad

Six Iraqis, two American soldiers and two US civilians have been killed in a bomb attack at a local council office in eastern Baghdad.

One of the US civilians was an official with the state department and the other worked for the defence department, US embassy officials said.

Ten people were wounded including three members of the Sadr City council.

The US military has blamed the attack on what it calls "special groups", or rogue members of Shia Muslim militias.

Iraqi police said the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber, but investigations by the US military suggested a bomb had been planted in the building.

A suspect who tested positive for contact with explosives had been caught trying to flee the scene, the US said.

Eyewitnesses said the bomb exploded inside the office of the deputy leader of the council, who was among the injured.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the deaths of the American civilians were "a terrible reminder of the dangers that our colleagues face daily in advancing our critical foreign policy goals".

Emphasis on councils

Representatives had been due to elect a chairman of the council for Sadr City, a militant Shia stronghold which has been the scene of fierce battles between US troops and fighters from the Mehdi Army, the militia loyal to the anti-US Shia Muslim cleric Moqtada Sadr.

On Monday, a gunman opened fire at US troops attending a municipal council meeting in a mainly Sunni Muslim area south-east of Baghdad, killing two soldiers and and wounding another three.

Correspondents say the US military has been working hard to shore up local government in Iraq amid a sharp drop in insurgency activity, to prevent areas from falling back under the control of Sunni and Shia extremists.

"This was the fourth meeting of this district council, led by hard-working Iraqis determined to make a difference and set Sadr City off on the right path," said US spokesman Lt Col John Digiambatista.

"Special groups are afraid of progress and afraid of empowering the people," he added.

He said the "cowardly" attack would only harden the determination of the council, as well as local civilians and the military.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/06/24 19:13:33 GMT

Suicide bombing rocks Iraqi city

Fifteen people have been killed and 39 wounded by a female suicide bomber in the northern Iraqi city of Baquba.

The bomber detonated the device in front of a group of policemen at the entrance to a local government and law courts complex.

A number of civilians are said to be among the casualties.

Previous bomb attacks in the Baquba area have been blamed on Sunni insurgents said to have links with the al-Qaeda network.

Doctor Ahmed Fuad, at Baquba's hospital, was quoted by AFP news agency as saying that among those killed in the latest bombing were eight policemen, two women and one child.

Several vehicles caught fire as a result of the explosion, while some nearby buildings were damaged by the impact.

Women recruits

Baquba is the capital of the restive Diyala province - one of the most dangerous parts of Iraq.

It has seen a series of suicide bombings by women over the past year.

Security officials say al-Qaeda has recruited women bombers because they are often subjected to lighter security checks than men.

Last Tuesday more than 60 people were killed in a car bomb attack in Baghdad. The Americans blamed what they termed renegade Shia militiamen trying to incite inter-communal violence.

It was the deadliest bombing in Iraq's capital for weeks, following a security drive by Iraqi and US forces.

Despite such attacks, overall levels of violence in Iraq are at a four-year low.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/06/22 15:11:47 GMT

U.S., Iraqi police in dispute over deadly airstrike

Accounts differ over what sparked U.S. airstrike near Tikrit

Police say family of six die in strike; U.S. says "armed terrorist" killed

Roadside bomb kills three U.S. soldiers and an interpreter in northern Iraq

Attack comes after two U.S. soldiers die in blast at Baghdad municipal building

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Police said a U.S. airstrike killed a family of six in northern Iraq, but the U.S. military described it as an attack targeting insurgents that killed one "armed terrorist."

Police said Tuesday night's strike, just north of Tikrit, also wounded four people.

Police said a man went outside and fired warning shots after hearing people moving around his house. U.S. troops thought it was hostile fire and responded.

The U.S. military said troops were targeting al Qaeda in Iraq insurgents "when they were attacked by small-arms fire."

The troops returned fire and surrounded nearby buildings when they saw an armed man enter one of them, the military said. U.S.-led coalition forces surrounded the buildings and urged the man to come out, but he refused, according to a military statement.

"Forces perceived hostile intent," the military said, and called in air support. A subsequent airstrike destroyed the building.

The military said police identified the man as an "armed terrorist" and found no other casualties. It said four women in another building received minor injuries in the strike.

Other deaths Wednesday also brought conflicting accounts from U.S. and Iraqi officials.

An Iraqi Interior Ministry official said U.S. soldiers shot dead a male banker and two female employees when they were driving to work in western Baghdad.

But Lt. Col. Steve Stover, a U.S. military spokesman, said a military convoy had come under fire in a drive-by shooting. Soldiers returned fire and struck a vehicle that swerved off the road, struck a wall and caught fire. Stover said three "militants" were killed and that a civilian witness has emerged to corroborate the sequence of events.

Meanwhile, a roadside bombing killed three U.S. soldiers in northern Iraq, bringing the number of American troop deaths this week in the country to seven.

The latest deaths occurred late Tuesday in Nineveh province, where fighting has raged for days as U.S. and Iraqi soldiers step up their operations against al Qaeda in Iraq.

An interpreter also was killed in the roadside bombing.

Earlier Tuesday, two soldiers were killed in a blast that rocked a municipal building in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood. Two employees from the Defense and State departments also were slain.

The U.S. military has blamed Special Groups, the name it uses for Iranian-backed militants, for that blast. An Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman said the attackers were targeting Baghdad City Council representatives, not coalition troops.

On Monday, an Iraqi councilman opened fire and killed two U.S. soldiers at a ceremony near Baghdad.

The spate of killings -- which comes as U.S. and Iraqi officials tout a dramatic drop in violence -- reflects the challenges that persist in achieving stability in Iraq.

So far in June, there have been 25 U.S. troop deaths, a low total in comparison to earlier months of the war. May's death toll of 19 was the lowest monthly total of the war. May 2007 saw 125 troop deaths, while there were 101 the next month.

Since the war began, 4,109 U.S. service members have died in Iraq.

Violence has flared in Nineveh province and its capital of Mosul as Iraqi and U.S. forces square off with Sunni militants from al Qaeda in Iraq.

Late Tuesday, a suicide car bomb detonated near a police station in central Mosul, killing at least two people, including a child, and wounding at least 70, Mosul police said.

It was the second suicide car bombing in Mosul this week. Another such attack took place near a police checkpoint Sunday in eastern Mosul, wounding at least 14 people.

A Mosul municipal official and his driver were gunned down Wednesday, police said.

Meanwhile, at the opposite end of Iraq, the country's armed forces seized wanted militants and weapons, while the government offered an amnesty plan to militants, according to an Iraqi military official.

Maj. Gen. Mohammed al-Askari said Wednesday the amnesty offer in Maysan province gave militants a week to surrender to authorities through their sheikhs and pledge to quit militant activities.

Troops have so far netted 95 wanted individuals and scores of weapons and munitions along waterways and in towns, al-Askari said. Many suspects fled the province -- a predominantly Shiite region that borders Iran and is thought to be an area of transit for Iranian weapons into Iraq.

"We captured some of the fleeing wanted individuals, and we are focusing on making Maysan a weapons-free zone," al-Askari said.

Many people in Maysan and its capital, Amara, are backers of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's political movement and have been affiliated with his militia, the Mehdi Army.

Other developments

• A parked car bomb killed three Iraqis and wounded seven others Wednesday when it detonated near an ice cream shop in central Baghdad's Karrada district, an Interior Ministry official said.

• Troops conducting an operation near Taji, just north of Baghdad, captured a wanted bombing cell leader. The military said a man in a building targeted by troops suffered a fatal heart attack.

No comments: