Saturday, March 24, 2007

Iraq War: Patience Urged after 74 people were killed or found dead

24 March, 2007

47 Die in One Attack

BAGHDAD - A suicide bomber driving a truck with explosives hidden under bricks destroyed a police station Saturday in Baghdad — the largest in a series of insurgent strikes against the American-led security crackdown. At least 47 people died in the attacks, including 20 at the police station.

Seventh Deadliest Day since Feb. 14th

In all, at least 74 people were killed or found dead in Iraq on Saturday, making it the seventh deadliest day since U.S. and Iraqi forces launched the security operation on Feb. 14, according to an Associated Press tally. That included at least 25 bullet-riddled bodies — 11 found in Baghdad, six pulled from the Tigris River south of the capital and eight in the Anbar city of Fallujah.

Bush's `Example City' Targeted

Northwest of the capital, a man wearing an explosives belt blew himself up outside a pastry shop in a central market area in Tal Afar, killing at least 10 people and wounding three, just over a year after President Bush declared that city was an example of progress made in bringing security to Iraq.

West of Baghdad - Six more Killed

Two suicide car bombers also struck a police station in Qaim, near the Syrian border and about 200 miles west of Baghdad. At least six people — five policemen and a woman — were killed and 19 wounded in that attack.

The bombings were not as numerous and the casualties not as high as the death tolls that were often in the dozens before the U.S. and Iraqi governments sent thousands more troops to the Baghdad area to try to stop a surge of retaliatory attacks between Sunnis and Shiites.

US Maj. Gen. Caldwell urges Patience

On March 14, U.S. military spokesman Maj. Gen. William C. Caldwell urged patience and cautioned that "high-profile" car bombings, which rose to a high of 77 in February, could "start the whole cycle of violence again."

Sweep Continues

U.S. and Iraqi forces, meanwhile, persisted with their neighborhood-to-neighborhood sweep of the capital, stepping up patrols in the Shiite commercial district of Karradah and shelling two mostly Sunni rural districts near the Dora neighborhood — the scene of several bombardments in recent weeks.

"Soldiers immediately cordoned the mosque grounds and called for assistance from the Iraqi security forces. ... (Iraqi security forces) in conjunction with coalition forces searched the mosque and found four AK-47s and seven magazines of ammunition," the military said.

The suicide bomber targeting the police station in central Dora detonated his explosives after being stopped by a long barricade guarded by policemen and surrounded by concrete blast walls, Ali said.

"I was standing near my shop when I heard a big explosion," said 42-year-old Salah Abdul-Wahid, who owns a nearby hardware store. "We rushed to the building to see scattered debris everywhere, fallen blast barriers and bodies and wounded people being taken from the building."

The 10:45 a.m. explosion occurred nearly three hours after two mortar shells landed on a Shiite enclave elsewhere in Dora, killing three people, police said.

Gunmen also ambushed an Iraqi army checkpoint in Baghdad‘s western Sunni neighborhood of Jami‘a, killing a soldier, police said, adding that a militant also was killed in subsequent clashes.

Iraq deputy al-Zubaie said to be in Good Condition

Salam al-Zubaie, one of two deputies to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, meanwhile was moved out of the intensive care unit Saturday morning and was in good condition, Sunni lawmaker Dhafer al-Ani said, adding that the Sunni had received visitors at the U.S.-run hospital in the heavily guarded Green Zone.

Al-Zubaie is among a long list of politicians — Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds — who have been targeted by militants seeking to undermine a succession of U.S.-backed governments in Iraq. Close relatives of government officials have also been victims of assassinations, abductions and roadside bombs.

Islamic State in Iraq Claims Responsability

The Islamic State in Iraq, an umbrella group that includes al-Qaida in Iraq, claimed responsibility for Friday‘s bombing against al-Zubaie at a small mosque attached to the politician‘s home.

The same group claimed on Saturday that it was behind the attack on a Baghdad compound during the news conference two days ago by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Ban was unharmed in the attack.

Meanwhile, the Iranian ambassador visited Iraqi President Jalal Talabani at his home in the Kurdish city of Sulaimaniyah. Talabani spokesman Kamran Qaradaghi said Iranian envoy Hassan Kazemi Qomi paid the "courtesy call" on Friday to convey his government‘s good wishes for the president‘s recovery and return to Iraq after 17 days of treatment in a Jordanian hospital for exhaustion and dehydration.

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